Asbestos on Beaches in the UK: Cautionary Advice

Asbestos on beaches

Several incidents of asbestos on our beaches have occurred in recent years, raising serious concerns for public health. Some cases are thought to have been caused by fly tipping, whilst others potentially the result of asbestos materials being washed ashore. 

The closure of Mount Batten beach in Plymouth in April highlights the problem of asbestos on beaches around the UK, and demonstrates the need for vigilance by the public, particularly as the school summer holidays are almost upon us.

Asbestos fly tipping

Asbestos fly tipping is an ongoing problem in this country, with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) frequently dumped on country lanes, public car parks, and even school playing fields.

The lengths to which fly tippers will go to dispose of asbestos materials know no bounds, but they may not be aware of the dangers to which they’re exposing themselves and the general public.

Asbestos should be safely disposed of using tightly controlled procedures, but because this isn’t a cheap exercise, ACMs are appearing in unsafe and non-designated areas. Asbestos on beaches isn’t solely the result of fly tipping, however, so where has asbestos been found?

Asbestos contamination on UK beaches

  • In 2013 asbestos cement was discovered on Minster beach in Kent by a member of the public on two separate occasions. 
  • Prestwick Beach in Ayrshire was closed at the end of July 2016 after asbestos material was discovered. On this occasion, councillors reportedly suspected it was the result of fly tipping.
  • In 2017 the pier at Colwyn Bay started to collapse into the sea, sparking fears that asbestos sheeting used in the pier pavilion building could be washed onto the beach.

Why asbestos is so dangerous

When microscopic asbestos fibres are released from the materials in which they’re encased – asbestos cement products, for example – they’re easily inhaled or ingested by anyone nearby.

They can then set up serious health conditions in later life, including mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that caused the deaths of more than 2,500 people in 2016.¹ Other asbestos diseases include asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer, which are life-changing and potentially life-shortening.

So what should you do if you find materials you think may contain asbestos on the beach?

What to do if you think you’ve found asbestos

The most important piece of advice is to leave it alone and immediately report your finding to the local council. If the substance is asbestos it may already have degraded sufficiently to release its fibres, but because they’re microscopic you won’t be aware that you’re inhaling or ingesting them.

Asbestos on beaches in the UK is a serious issue that should be dealt with by suitably trained and qualified asbestos experts. Acorn Analytical Services are highly experienced asbestos consultants and offer a full range of asbestos services, including asbestos testing and asbestos removal. We cover the whole of the UK and can provide swift, reliable advice on all aspects of asbestos. Please contact one of our expert consultants to find out more.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

The new senior leadership team at asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services. From left to right, Steve McGlone, Andy Jackson and Simon Rodham.

Award-winning asbestos management consultancy starts 2024 with a new senior team

AWARD-WINNING asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services has announced a new senior leadership team to take the company into 2024 and beyond. After a record-breaking year which saw the company recognised for High Growth at the National SME Awards while taking on new clients and winning new business across the UK, Acorn Analytical Services, which … Read more

Ian Stone, director of asbestos management consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services

Let’s start 2024 in the right way – by getting rid of the dangers of asbestos for good

According to the latest data from the Health and Safety Executive 2,268 people died from asbestos-related mesothelioma in 2021 alone. It’s a shocking statistic, particularly when you consider that the use of asbestos in new buildings was banned in the UK in 1999 – more than 20 years ago. With Cancer Research UK confirming that … Read more

This Men's Health Month is time to talk about absestos

Men’s Health Month – it’s time to talk openly about asbestos

NOVEMBER marks Men’s Health Month – a time for shining the spotlight on the conditions and issues which affect men from all walks of life. While the focus quite rightly turns to serious health issues including Prostate Cancer, Testicular Cancer and mental health, at Acorn Analytical Services we want people to start talking about asbestos. … Read more

Asbestos consultancy Acorn Analytical Services will soon be moving into new offices

Have you heard the news? Asbestos consultancy Acorn Analytical Services Northampton is on the move

IF you haven’t heard the news already, we are delighted to announce that asbestos connsultancy Acorn Analytical Services Northampton will be starting a brand-new chapter very soon. In the coming days, our team will be moving to new – much larger – offices on Northampton’s Moulton Park, the place which has been our home for … Read more

asbestos in talcum powder

Unveiling the Hidden Danger: The Menace of Asbestos in Talcum Powder and the UK’s Stance

Explore the veiled danger of asbestos in talcum powder, the UK’s vigilant regulations, and the unfolding narrative of consumer safety. Dive into the rigorous testing methodologies, industry responses, and the promising horizon of international cooperation aiming to foster a safer landscape in the realm of personal care products.

RAAC and asbestos could be a problem in some buildings

Raac and ruin? How concrete crisis also raises the question of asbestos

A LOT has been said recently about Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) and asbestos. While fears about the safety of RAAC continue to dominate the headlines both nationally and locally, it is the additional threat from asbestos which we believe should be discussed now as a matter of urgency. Just as RAAC is crumbling in … Read more

Asbestos consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services, will be raising money for Mesothelioma UK

Asbestos consultancy gears up for 24-hour fundraising challenge

FOR many years the team at Acorn Analytical Services has been an avid supporter of Mesothelioma UK, the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting people affected by this deadly disease. Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres and shockingly still kills around 5,000 people each year in the UK – … Read more

RAAC and asbestos could be a problem in some buildings

The Ultimate Guide to Asbestos Surveyors: Why Your Safety Depends on It

Asbestos, once a ‘miracle material’, now poses severe health risks. Uncover the significance of asbestos surveys in the UK and why your safety depends on it.

Asbestos: Having the right consultancy in your corner has never been more important

‘Having the right consultancy to help you manage asbestos has never been more important’

A REPORT written by asbestos expert and director of Acorn Analytical Services, Ian Stone, has highlighted the worrying state of asbestos in the UK. The Annual Asbestos Industry Review provides a unique insight into the industry and a snapshot of the work being done by Acorn Analytical Services – one of the largest independent consultancies … Read more

Management of asbestos in schools

Management of Asbestos in Schools: A Comprehensive Analysis

In this blog post, we delve into the critical issue of asbestos management in UK schools, the recent HSE report, and the role of Acorn Analytical Services in ensuring safe learning environments.