Asbestos Removal

Asbestos was widely used in a variety of building materials. It may be in found in your house if it was built or refurbished before 2000. In 1999, asbestos was banned in the UK because of its link to a number of health problems. When damaged or in poor condition, asbestos should be removed.

About Asbestos

Asbestos refers to a group of minerals that are found naturally as bundles of fibres that can be separated into thin durable threads. These fibres are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals. They also do not conduct electricity. As a result, asbestos is widely in construction materials and for other uses. In the UK, asbestos has been since the end of the nineteen century. The material was a particularly popular from the 1950s, when they were used in the construction of homes and other buildings until the 1970s. The use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1969. In 1999, Asbestos Containing Materials or ACMs where banned and it became illegal to use any materials that contained asbestos.

Asbestos may be found in roofs, pipes, floor tiles, textiles, boilers, water tanks and toilet cisterns. It was also used in building materials such as cement products, lagging and asbestos insulating board (AIB). Asbestos may also be in loose material installed in ceiling and wall cavities as well as sprayed coatings and textured decorative coatings (also known as Artex). It is often mixed with other materials, which makes identifying it difficult. In many cases, asbestos is safe when it is not disturbed. It is dangerous when it is in poor condition or disturbed, which causes fibres to be released. Exposure to asbestos fibres can cause mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lungs), asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis (scarring of the lungs), and diffuse pleural thickening (thickening of the membrane surrounding the lungs).

Removing Asbestos

There are a number of circumstances when ACMs should be removed, repaired or sealed. These include when the surface has been damaged, frayed or scratched and when the material's surface sealant is breaking off or peeling. ACMs should also be removed, repaired or sealed when the material has become detached from its base or if protective covers are missing. Attention may also be needed when asbestos dust or debris is found close to the material. Local authorities often provide advice and assistance to property owners who want to remove asbestos. Since ACMs are considered special waste, it must not be disposed of with normal household waste. Councils typically offer a collection service when removing asbestos to ensure it is properly handled and disposed.

The handling of asbestos is regulated by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which in part protects residents from risks related to work activities that are being carried out in their homes. Work involving asbestos-containing materials is also governed by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and its regulations, which prevent and reduce exposure of and the spread of asbestos. Homeowners are not legally responsible for risks to contractors from asbestos unless they are directly engaged in any of the work to remove the material.

Finding a Qualified Contractor

To be safe, asbestos should only be handled by a trained person or contractor. A list of licensed asbestos removal contractors is available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). While there is no legal requirement to have a certificate as proof of training in asbestos removal, many training providers do issue certificates upon completion of training. When choosing a contractor, ask to see any certifications as well as proof of insurance. You should also read reviews and check references before picking a contractor. Getting quotes from at least three contractors will also help you determine if you are getting a fair and accurate price. ACM removal specialists may be members of the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA), which is the UK's leading trade association for asbestos removal contractors. Members of ARCA demonstrate high standards of health and safety and have adequate insurance. ARCA also provides training courses.