It’s been banned for over 20 years, but we’re still living with asbestos

Asbestos is common in many older buildings

LOOK up at any old building in any town or city near you and it’s highly likely it will contain asbestos.

First used more than 4,000 years ago, asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used by early settlers in Finland to strengthen earthenware and cooking utensils. It came to Britain from Canada in the 1860s and its use became widespread in the 1900s thanks to its fire-retardant, insulating qualities.

It was quickly picked up as a cheap material and used extensively – in factories, hospitals, schools and even private homes.

While you might be shocked to learn that its risk to health was recognised as early as 1899, it wasn’t until 100 years later in 1999 that its use was banned in new buildings in the UK, meaning that many older, even iconic buildings still contain asbestos to this day.

Despite the dangers, which are now well-documented, asbestos remains a popular product in many developing countries. In 2020, Russia was the world’s leading producer – mining an estimated 790,000 tonnes.

What sorts of buildings contain asbestos?

Since joining Acorn Analytical Services two months ago, Commercial Director, Sam Savage has found himself on the road visiting buildings of all kinds including car parks, disused cinemas, factories, large office buildings and even a department store.

Among them, one of the most iconic buildings in London – the former Daily Telegraph offices at Peterborough House, which was built in 1928 from distinctive Portland stone.

Any building which was built before 1999 could contain potentially harmful asbestos – the only way to know for sure is by carrying out a full survey.

How harmful is it?

Asbestos can lie dormant inside buildings for decades without causing any harm – but it must be effectively managed.

If you are a landlord or facilities manager, you have a duty to ensure you comply fully with the law. You must ensure any asbestos in your building is managed properly so it doesn’t become a risk to health.

If it is disturbed – either by accident, or as a result of building work – it can be a serious threat, leading to mesothelioma in people who are exposed to the fibres.

If you’re not sure, it’s always best to check and as one of the leading asbestos management consultancies in the country, Acorn Analytical Services is perfectly placed to give you the very best advice possible.

How can Acorn Analytical Services help me?

With offices in Birmingham, Cleckheaton, Northampton and London and a team of experts across the UK, Acorn Analytical Services is here to help.

As well as management surveys, we can offer a whole suite of services including asbestos removal management and air testing and full construction, design and management (CDM) support if you are a contractor working on a building site.

We have lots of resources too, including a book and a podcast, for anybody interested in learning more about asbestos and how to navigate the very complex rules around its management.

We also work hard to raise awareness of the dangers and have joined to together with leading charities, Mesothelioma UK and ActionMeso to ensure everyone is asbestos aware.

We want everyone to think carefully about their surroundings and if you suspect that asbestos could be present in your building, make sure you take action right away.

Acorn is a professional asbestos consultancy helping organisations deal with compliance using surveysair testing, and removal management. 

Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or Contact Us

Ian Stone

I am based out of our Northampton office but regularly travel to meet with new and existing clients. I have assisted thousands of clients over the years on varying-sized projects, several have been schemes totalling over one million pounds spent purely on asbestos. Together with Neil Munro, I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I am Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

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