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Many people worry about the health risks of asbestos, but as long as the asbestos is in good condition and inspected on a regular basis, there is no need to worry.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is found naturally in rock formations around the world. It is made up of lots of small fibres.
Why would I have asbestos in my home?
Asbestos fibres are strong, durable and resistant to heat and chemicals and that’s why asbestos was added to a wide range of building materials, mainly between the 1950’s and the 1980’s. It is not found in its pure form but added to other materials, such as plastic, plaster and cement to create asbestos containing materials (ACMs). Although there has been a dramatic decline in asbestos use since the early 1980’s, asbestos products are found in most homes. It is now a banned substance.
ACMs are not found in properties built after 2000.
Why could Asbestos be a problem?
Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are generally safe and not a health risk if they are in a good state of repair and left undisturbed. However, if they are damaged or broken, they can release fibres into the air.
Can I be exposed to Asbestos?
People can put themselves at risk, often without realising it, if they are not taking proper precautions when repairing or renovating areas that disturb materials containing asbestos.
Is asbestos dangerous to my health?
Asbestos poses health risks only when fibres are present in the air that people breathe. If the fibres are enclosed or tightly bound in a material, there is no significant health risk.
Who is at risk?
We are all exposed to low amounts of asbestos which are present in the atmosphere. The Health and Safety Executive consider these levels to be safe and unlikely to cause problems. The people most at risk from asbestos are those who are exposed to high levels of asbestos fibres over a long period of time.
Contractors are particularly at risk, due to the high risk of coming into contact with ACMs. (Plumbers, electricians and maintenance staff are in the high risk category).
What precautions should I take to avoid exposure to asbestos?
Asbestos fibres can get into the air during do-it-yourself (DIY) work at home. DIY activities such as drilling and sawing may disturb and damage ACMs. Always contact Derwent Living before carrying out any work. Never try to remove, sand, scrape, drill or saw without permission.
Where might asbestos be most commonly found in my home?
Asbestos is found in a variety of products. Some of the most common are below:
Outside your home: roof sheets and tiles; exterior cladding; guttering and drain pipes; flue pipes and terminals.
Inside your home: electrical distribution boards and fuses; plastic floor tiles; textured wall and ceiling coatings; underside of stairs; lagging around pipe work and hot water cylinders; water tank; fireplace panels; bath panels; boiler flue pipe lining and boards on the back of boilers, bath panels and boxing at service pipes.
How do I tell if I have asbestos in my home?
You cannot tell just by looking if something contains asbestos. In recent years new products have been developed without asbestos, but look very similar to materials they have replaced.
The only way to tell if something contains asbestos is by testing a sample of the material – this should only be done by a trained surveyor.
How does Derwent Living manage asbestos?
We have an ongoing programme to survey ACMs in our properties to identify both location and condition. We then manage it as appropriate.
We inform customers whose properties have accessible ACMs in them.
REMEMBER: Asbestos does not pose a risk as long as it isn’t damaged.
What should I do if I suspect any ACMs are damaged?
Contact the Asset Management team as a matter of urgency, who will take appropriate action. If you suspect there is damaged asbestos and it is in an internal room, vacate the room and close the doors. Leave it sealed until our representative can attend site to investigate further.
For more information contact
The Asset Management team on 01332 346477
Health & Safety Executive
Rose Court, 2 Southwark Bridge, London, SE1 9HS
Phone: 0845 345 0055 Info Line
United Kingdom Accreditation Service
UKAS, 21 – 47 High Street, Feltham, Middlesex, TW13 4UN
Phone: 02089 178 400
The Asbestos Removal Control Association
ARCA House, 237 Branston Road, Burton Upon Trent, Staffordshire, DE14 3BT
Phone: 01283 531 126