Asbestos: Living with the legacy of the past

The Houses of Parliament are 'riddled' with asbestos

THERE is so much asbestos in the Houses of Parliament it would take 300 people two-and-a-half years to remove it completely.

That’s the view of members of the Public Accounts Committee who fear that the Parliament buildings are at risk of crumbling unless swift action is taken.

In older buildings, asbestos is a common problem and one that can quickly pose a significant risk to health if it is not dealt with quickly.

Here, we look at some of the common issues and the ways in which the team at Acorn Analytical Services can help.

Living with the legacy of asbestos

According to Imperial College London, asbestos was first used commercially in the UK in the 1870s when it was used extensively on ships and steam engines.

Despite increased concerns about the health risks associated with its use, demand increased throughout the second half of the 20th Century, particularly in the years after the Second World War when its fire-retardant qualities and low cost made it an attractive choice for the construction industry.

As the true scale of the risks were realised, its use was finally outlawed in new buildings in 1999. But the UK still lives with the legacy of its close relationship with asbestos with an estimated six million tonnes still contained within older buildings, including the Houses of Parliament.

These days, strict rules govern how it is managed and work can only be carried out by highly-skilled, trained professionals such as the team at Acorn Analytical Services, who have been at the heart of the industry in Northamptonshire for ten years.

The first step is to find out whether it is present in your building – something we recommend for anyone with premises which were built before 1999.

Why do I need an asbestos survey?

An asbestos survey is the only way to check for the presence of asbestos in your building and there are three main types:

The first includes a visual inspection of the building, ceilings, walls and floors as well as hidden areas including ducts and pipework.

A refurbishment survey will be carried out before any major repairs or refurbishment work is carried out to ensure anyone working on the project is safe. A demolition survey is the most destructive survey and will seek out all Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) contained within a building.

As a general rule, we recommend that any building built before 1999 is checked for the presence of asbestos to reduce the risk of any accidental disturbance.

The dangers of not handling asbestos responsibly

The risks of not handling asbestos in the correct way are stark.

Exposure to the microscopic fibres greatly increase the risk of someone developing mesothelioma – a deadly cancer for which there is currently no treatment or cure.

Mesothelioma affects the lungs and the stomach and more than 2,500 people are diagnosed with the disease in the UK every year – more than 80% of those affected are men.

Ensuring you are protected from the dangers has never been more important and as one of the leading independent asbestos consultancies in the UK we are perfectly placed to help you wherever you are.

Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help protect you and your business.

Acorn is a professional consultancy helping organisations deal with asbestos 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 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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