Asbestos is the common name given to a group of natural minerals made up of many small fibres.
It was widely used in building materials from 1930 until about 1980. Because it is flexible and fire-resistant it was mainly used in a number of building products to strengthen them and provide insulation and fire protection.
Houses and flats built or refurbished during this period may have some asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos-containing materials are unlikely to have been used in properties built since the mid 1980s, and from 1993 the use of asbestos in most products has been banned.
Asbestos is not itself dangerous and asbestos-containing material found in the
home should not pose a health hazard provided it is in sound condition. It only becomes dangerous if it is damaged, or it deteriorates with age. This increases the chance that it may release fibres into the air.
The greatest risk arises when asbestos-containing materials are damaged or drilled, cut, sawn, scrubbed or sanded. DIY work can result in brief but high levels
Breathing in dust containing asbestos fibres can be harmful. If these tiny fibres are breathed in they may lodge deep down in the lung causing possible lung damage. If large quantities of fibres are inhaled over a long period there is a risk of lung diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and other cancers.
Risk to health is very low for people who have not worked with asbestos. People who worked in the building trade are at greatest risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. For example joiners, electricians, plumbers etc, may have breathed in asbestos dust during their day-to-day work with asbestos. Workplace regulations now protect such people.
The GENERAL RULE is: If asbestos-containing materials are in good condition – leave them alone. Asbestos in the home is usually not a serious problem.
It is not always easy to spot materials that contain asbestos on their appearance alone, especially if they have been decorated in some way. Experienced surveyors and heath and safety specialists are best able to locate and identify them.
In the Home - the most common places asbestos materials may be found in a home:
- Facia and soffit boards
- Panels beneath window frames
- Roof felt or lining panels
- Roof sheets or tiles
- Roof cement cold water tanks
- Old ventilation pipes
- Textured coatings and ceiling panels
- Hot pipe insulation
- Garage roofs/facia boards/window lining/rainwater downpipes
- Bath panelling
- Panels beneath fires or heaters
- Fire door panels
- Service ducting
- Partition walls
- Floor tiles and linoleum products in kitchens and bathrooms
Please Note: It is very unlikely your home would contain asbestos in all of the places listed.
Many people have worries about asbestos and we take managing any asbestos that may be in your home very seriously.
We will ensure that all asbestos-containing material falling under our control is managed in such a manner as to eliminate, so far as reasonably practicable, exposure to asbestos fibres to anyone that could be affected.
We carry out surveys to identify asbestos-containing materials in the properties we manage, including communal and public areas and garages. The findings from these surveys put into a register where the type, location and condition of asbestos-containing materials are recorded. This helps us to monitor and manage the risk of asbestos fibres being released into the air.
If asbestos-containing material is identified during minor or major works in your home, but it is not damaged and still doing its job by strengthening and fireproofing, it is safest to leave it in place. This is what the law and government policy says.
If this can not be achieved, we will make it safe by either enclosing it or removing it. Any removal and safe disposal will be done by a competent authorised asbestos removal company.
If you think a material might contain asbestos – contact us and speak to a member of our trained staff.
They will be able to provide you with more details, if necessary arrange for a specialist to take samples if necessary.
Remember – left undisturbed, asbestos does not present a danger to your health.
If you find material which you think may contain asbestos, or if you have any questions, please contact us.
Please remember: Under your tenancy agreement, if you wish to carry out improvements to your home you must obtain written permission from us before starting work. If you think the work you wish to carry out may disturb any asbestos-containing materials, please tell us. We can advise you and if necessary, we will arrange for samples to be taken and analysed for your safety.
We will keep you up to date with our progress on the sample we take from your home in line with the guidelines and Health and Safety Regulations.
You are responsible for any asbestos-containing materials in your home. We are responsible for the communal areas around your home, and we will give you the results of our asbestos surveys. If you would like further information or advice about asbestos, please get in touch.
- Don’t panic.
- Don’t carry out DIY works, including drilling, sanding stripping of any products known to contain asbestos.
- Don’t dust, sweep or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
- Do treat asbestos with respect.
- Do keep away from any damaged products which may contain asbestos.
- Do inform us straight away if you have concerns about any products in your home.
Don’t try to deal with it yourself! If you think your home contains material containing asbestos or damaged asbestos then contact us and speak to a member of our trained staff.
Remember: according to Health and Safety Executive guidelines, as long as the asbestos is not damaged or located somewhere where it can be easily damaged it won’t be a risk to you. Further information can be obtained from the following on the HSE website.