Asbestos in Homes – A Homeowner’s Guide to Asbestos and What to Do
Why Was Asbestos Originally Used?
The widespread use of asbestos in construction is believed to have originally started towards the end of the industrial revolution in the 19th century. It was considered to have been the perfect material for nearly all types of insulation and construction purposes due to its favourable properties.
The material was highly sought after by manufacturing and construction businesses throughout the world because it was cheap, durable, flexible and because it was naturally very effective at insulating and fireproofing . Asbestos-containing products were used at every opportunity, and by the late 19th century, countries across the globe were running enormous mines to meet the rapidly expanding demand for the mineral.
Asbestos soon became an integral part of commercial product manufacturing, and was used extensively for the vast majority of the 20th century. Cement containing the mineral was utilised in building materials not only because of its insulating and fireproofing capabilities, but also because it provided strength without adding too much weight.
The mineral is also resistant to electricity and chemical corrosion, making it a suitable material for an even wider range of purposes.
However, it’s common usage was soon brought to a halt when its toxic nature and cancer-causing effects were discovered.
What Type of Homes Might Have Asbestos?
Although the use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, it’s still possible that your home, place of work or other buildings you may spend time in contains some form of the mineral, especially if it was built before the ban was introduced.
As asbestos was so ubiquitous in construction, it was almost impossible to find a building without asbestos in, if insulation was required, asbestos was frequently used. This means that if your house was built or refurbished before 1999, there is a possibility that asbestos may be present in some form or another.
Many buildings built before the ban was introduced at the end of the 20th century could potentially contain asbestos in the following areas, particularly in attics and basements:
- Floor/ceiling tiles
- Roof Tiles
- Gutters and down pipes
- Cement panels
- Partition walls
What Does Asbestos Look Like?
It is worth noting that there are in fact 6 different types of asbestos, all of which have a different appearance and varying properties but only 3 main types were used commercially :-
- Chrysotile – White asbestos which is by far the most commonly found type of asbestos. It can be found in a variety of places, including walls, ceilings, roofs and ducts.
- Crocidolite – Blue asbestos that can be found in pipe insulation and cement products.
- Amosite – Brown asbestos that was used in insulation and board materials.
However, it is incredibly difficult to see asbestos with the naked eye and identify whether it is present just from a visual inspection as it is usually mixed in with other materials (for example, cement that contains asbestos usually looks identical to cement that doesn’t contain it), and the fibres that can be released into the air are microscopic.
There’s no need to panic if you think asbestos might be present in your property, you just need to make sure that it is not disturbed and, if necessary, it is removed and disposed of correctly.
Process for Removal of Asbestos
Hiring a certified asbestos professional with specialist equipment and training is the only way to definitively determine whether the mineral is present. Casa Environmental will conduct an initial survey and take samples for analysis in their Laboratory.
The process used for removing asbestos will completely depend on the nature of the mineral, where it’s found, the condition of the material it is present in, and whether the asbestos is friable or not. It is only when the fibres become airborne that they become a health hazard as they can be easily inhaled through the mouth or nose.
Friable asbestos is much more dangerous than non-friable asbestos as it will readily release fibres into the atmosphere if disturbed.
Following a survey of your property a report is compiled detailing any asbestos found including asbestos type, extent and condition. The report will also make recommendations regarding each incidence of asbestos found such as repair , encapsulate or remove if in a poor condition or if any planned refurbishment or demolition works are likely to disturb it.
Casa Environmental can organise removal or repair work to asbestos materials using a specialist Company licensed by the Health and Safety Executive.
Once the asbestos has been removed and the area thoroughly cleaned an air test will be carried out to ensure that the area is safe for re occupation.
Non-friable asbestos is tightly bound to other materials making it much more difficult for fibres to become airborne unless the material gets damaged, sanded, cut or sawn. As long as the material is in good condition and cannot readily release asbestos fibres, it won’t be considered dangerous however it will need to be monitored closely for any signs of damage or deterioration.
Following the survey it may be deemed appropriate that the material is protected from potential damage by covering it with a suitable encapsulating paint. If required the survey report will make this recommendation.
Asbestos Inspection & Removal with Casa Environmental Services
In order to minimise asbestos exposure for you, work colleagues or your family, it’s essential that you hire a competent and accredited professional to accurately perform an initial survey. Professional asbestos removal is the only permanent solution to the problem of asbestos in the home.
Here at Casa Environmental Services, we specialise in asbestos management. We provide UKAS accredited asbestos surveying and analytical services throughout the UK, helping all types of properties to manage the threat of asbestos.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our friendly team today to find out more about how we can help.