Asbestos was widely used in the construction of residential buildings before its ban in 1999, and generations of people have grown up surrounded by asbestos in the home. Although its dangers are now widely publicised, asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) continue to cause concern in a domestic setting.
So how much of a threat does asbestos still pose for homeowners and tenants, what should be done if asbestos is found in the home, and how can it be managed in this residential setting?
Where you might find asbestos in the home
These are just some of the places asbestos might be found in residential properties:
- Pipe lagging
- Textured coatings, such as artex
- Partition walling
- Ceiling and floor tiles
- Bath panels
- Toilet cisterns
- Gutters and downpipes
- Asbestos cement roofing
- Roofing felt
What to do if asbestos is present at home?
Asbestos-containing materials are commonly found in residential properties, but they’re deemed not to be dangerous as long as they remain intact. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance is to leave asbestos materials alone if they’re not damaged or degraded, and to check regularly for any changes.
If you believe asbestos is present in your home and are worried about the risk of inhaling fibres, you should contact your local council for advice, call your landlord, or inform the council/housing association if you’re renting from a public sector landlord.
A further consideration is that, depending on the type of asbestos-containing materials, contractors specifically licensed to deal with asbestos may need to be brought in.
Licensed or non-licensed contractors?
It’s important to know that some forms of asbestos – including loose fill asbestos insulation, lagging for pipes, and sprayed coatings such as artex – should only be handled/removed by licensed contractors.
Non-licensable work includes removal of asbestos cement products such as roofing sheets and asbestos cement tiles, as long as they aren’t broken up. It’s also important to inform any builders or tradespeople entering your home about the asbestos prior to them starting work, as they could inadvertently damage asbestos materials and release the carcinogenic fibres.
Managing asbestos in the home
Once it’s established that asbestos is in your home, the next step depends on its condition and whether it’s likely to be disturbed during home improvement works, either now or in the future.
Air testing and asbestos sampling will determine whether a threat to health exists inside your home following any improvements, and also offers valuable reassurance if you suspect asbestos fibres have been inadvertently released.
For more information on asbestos in the home, contact one of our experts at Acorn Analytical Services. We’re a nationwide asbestos consultancy and offer a range of services, including asbestos refurbishment surveys, asbestos air testing, and asbestos sampling.