Asbestos in the home
Many people have worries about asbestos, but undisturbed asbestos usually poses no problems.
Asbestos products are found in most homes and, if they are in a good state of repair and left undisturbed, they present no hazard to health.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used in a range of building materials to make them more rigid and fire resistant.
Asbestos was used extensively as a building material in Great Britain before 2000.
Why could asbestos be a problem?
When asbestos materials become damaged, they can release fibres into the air. If you breathe these fibres deep into the lung they may stay for a long time. When this happens, there is a risk of lung diseases, including cancer.
People who have worked with asbestos for many years as part of their job or have washed the dusty clothing of those who have worked with asbestos are most likely to be affected by asbestosis.
Is everyone exposed to asbestos?
As asbestos has been used widely very low levels of fibres are found in the air everywhere. Levels of fibres may be higher in buildings containing asbestos materials, especially where these materials are damaged. Where you suspect that a material could be asbestos containing, you should refer this to us. We will check our records and may need to carry out an asbestos survey.
Where is asbestos found?
Building materials containing asbestos were widely used from 1930 to around 1985 (but could still be found up until 1999), particularly from 1960s onwards. So, houses and flats built or refurbished during this time may contain asbestos materials.
Asbestos has also been used in some heat-resisting household products, such as oven gloves and ironing boards. The use of asbestos in these products decreased around the mid-1980s. The use of asbestos was completely banned from 1999.
It is not always easy to tell whether a product contains asbestos as modern, asbestos-free materials often look similar. Modern insulation materials / quilts do not contain asbestos.
Some of the areas in your home where you may find asbestos include:
- eaves, gutters, and rainwater fall pipes
- garage and shed roofs
- roof tiles
- flue pipes
- soil stacks
- textured coating (ARTEX)
- ceiling and wall boards
- fire stop panels
- bath panels
- loose asbestos packing between floors and in partition walls
- floor tiles
Anyone who disturbs asbestos to the extent that it releases fibres, whether it has deteriorated or been damaged, may be at risk. If you undertake work that involves drilling, sawing, abrading or cutting into the fabric of any material containing asbestos, you could potentially be at risk.
What to do if you think you have asbestos in your home
If you are concerned about any suspect material in your home, you should consider that it may contain asbestos until proven otherwise. It is sometimes necessary for us to take a sample to identify the type of asbestos. You should not carry out structural repairs or improvements to your home above and beyond cleaning and basic decorating unless you have checked with us first. You should not sand or scrape textured coating. We will offer further advice if we feel there is a likelihood of removing or damaging asbestos products.
Any unplanned structural damage to your home, whether internal or external, that may have exposed asbestos products must be reported to us immediately. For example, if asbestos cement guttering falls into the garden due to extreme weather conditions.
Do not attempt to remove any asbestos products by yourself. Asbestos waste must be disposed of in a safe manner to a licensed site. Please do not place it in wheelie bins.
You can find out more information about asbestos on the Health and Safety Executive website.
Report asbestos concerns
To report any concerns about asbestos in council properties or if you need further advice, please contact the repairs team on 0800 587 5659.
If you need help or information about asbestos in privately owned properties, business premises owned by the council, or other places of work, please contact us here.