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

RAAC and asbestos could be a problem in some buildings

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 many of our public buildings including hospitals and schools, so too is asbestos, triggering the potential for a large scale health emergency which – we believe – can no longer be ignored.

What is the link between RAAC and asbestos?

Both RAAC and asbestos were used extensively in the 1960s when much of the infrastructure we see around us in our towns and cities was built.

Many schools, hospitals, offices and factories would have been built using RAAC and asbestos – two ‘hero’ products which were cheap and easy to produce.

With fears now that RAAC is becoming unstable in some places and starting to crumble, putting patients, children and staff at risk, the effects this may have any asbestos contained within the same buildings is clear.

As work gets underway to remove the RAAC, the risk of disturbing asbestos which may too be in a poor state of repair, increases exponentially putting everyone who works within those buildings at an increased risk of exposure to deadly asbestos fibres and mesothelioma – a form of cancer. It’s already estimated that over the past 40 years as many as 10,000 teachers, pupils and staff have died from exposure to asbestos.

The Sunday Times was quick to identify the link between RAAC and asbestos in its reporting of the crisis explaining that if a ceiling were to collapse without warning as a result of crumbling concrete the release of asbestos fibres into the air could be catastrophic. Even removing or assessing the areas of concrete could be enough to cause harm, it says.

RAAC and asbestos – what can be done?

Sadly, this is a situation which Acorn Analytical Services has been warning the authorities about for many years.

As industry experts, we see asbestos every day. We understand the scale of the problem which faces us all and the dire state of repair many of our public buildings are now in.

As a leading voice in steering groups with MPs and Peers we have raised our concerns at the highest level and taken part in campaigns to help raise awareness. Back in 2021, we launched a campaign aimed at tackling the problem of asbestos in our schools, particularly in Birmingham where as many as 75% of schools are known to contain asbestos. But still, 25 years after the use of asbestos was banned in new buildings, little has been done.

With the RAAC crisis now well and truly at the forefront of peoples’ minds, we have a golden opportunity to get on top of the problem once and for all before it is too late.

If anyone is concerned about the presence of RAAC and asbestos in their school, office get in touch with one of our experts today. We can offer a wide range of services to ensure you get the help which is right for you, including surveys, air testing and sample testing.

We’re always here to help with any queries about RAAC and asbestos.

Acorn is a professional asbestos consultancy helping organisations deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos air testing, and asbestos 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 asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or Contact Us

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.

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