Homeowners are responsible for any asbestos in their homes. If you know that you have asbestos in your home and are planning some home improvements or maintenance, you must inform builders, contractors etc. before they start work.
Asbestos is dangerous when fibres are released:
Even minor damage can produce many fibres e.g. drilling a hole to hang a picture. Damage can also be done by wall scrapers, or rubbing down asbestos panels or Artex with sandpaper. Cutting asbestos with electrical tools and smashing asbestos products with a hammer are extremely dangerous and must be avoided at all costs.
Asbestos was used to resist heat and for fire protection in building materials and consumer goods. The commercial use of asbestos began around the end of the nineteenth century due to its fire resisting properties. Large quantities were used between 1950 and the early 1970s, particularly in system built housing. Asbestos use has been gradually withdrawn since 1969 until 1999 when it was banned.
Asbestos can be found in a wide variety of products in the home:
There can be a wide variety of products in the home that contain asbestos:-
- Asbestos cement - Flat or corrugated sheets can be found on garage roofs; shed walls and roofs; molded asbestos cement is used for cold water tanks, external guttering and pipes, decking and roof tiles, lining under eaves and flue pipes.
- Asbestos insulating board - Used for fire protection, heating insulation, ceiling tiles and as a building board. All insulating board made in the UK is now asbestos-free.
- Other building materials - Some plastic floor tiles, cushion flooring, roofing felts, textured plasters such as artex and paints contain asbestos.
- Warm air heating systems - Asbestos insulation was used in some systems and for lining cupboards housing the heating unit.
- Asbestos lagging - Used for insulation pipes and boilers. It is unlikely to be found in modern houses, but was sometimes used in flats or older houses. A preliminary inspection for asbestos should be made before repair or removal of older central heating systems.
- Domestic Equipment - Asbestos was used in some oven gloves and fire blankets. Ovens, ironing boards and heaters may have asbestos components.
- Sprayed Asbestos - Used for protecting structural steelwork and for insulation. It may be found in a small number of steel framed houses built before the mid 1970's.
Breathing in asbestos fibres can lead to people developing one of three fatal diseases:
- Asbestosis which is scarring of the lung
- Lung cancer
- Mesothelioma; which is cancer of the lining of the lungs and stomach-pleural mesothelioma. It is almost solely caused by exposure to asbestos, which was used in everything from children's toys, house-hold insulation and naval carriers.The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance is dedicated to serving Mesothelioma victims and their families. Also visit pleuralmesothelioma.com web-site for the most up-to-date and comprehensive information available, with information ranging from a complete list of symptoms, to treatment options and steps to take after a diagnosis. Further information can also be found at asbestos.com and Mesothelioma Resource Online.
What you should do:
If the asbestos is in good condition, not likely to be damaged and not likely to be worked on, leave it in place, as this is the safest course of action. In good condition asbestos poses minimal risks.
You can paint Asbestos materials to prevent any dust from escaping. Use emulsion paint for insulating board but use an alkali-resistant primer or coating for asbestos cement products.
Do not rub down asbestos material before painting
If the asbestos is in poor condition e.g.
- The surface is damaged/frayed/scratched
- Surface sealant is peeling/breaking off
- Material is becoming detached from base
- Asbestos dust/debris in immediate surrounding area
YOU NEED TO DECIDE WHETHER TO REPAIR/ RESEAL/ ENCLOSE OR REMOVE IT. IF UNSURE SEEK SPECIALIST ADVICE.
If you have asbestos that has been sprayed, asbestos lagging or insulating boards in your home this must only be removed by a licensed asbestos contractor. Asbestos cement can be removed by non licensed contractors, provided appropriate precautions are taken.
You can dispose of small amounts of bonded asbestos by obtaining a permit from the Council's Waste Services department at:
South Northants Council
Northants NN12 6AE
Tel: 01327 322344
This will allow the disposal of the following without charge:
- Ironing boards with an asbestos iron rest pad
- Small domestic asbestos fire blankets
The permit will allow the disposal of the following at a subsidised rate:
- No more than 5 sheets of asbestos cement 90cm x 180cm
- Max. 9m run of asbestos pipelguttering
- 1 asbestos water tank
Please telephone the above number for current prices
If you produce more than the maximum amount shown above the whole amount is charged at the Transfer Station's commercial rate and none of the waste will be eligible for disposal under the Permit Scheme. You must telephone the Station Operator to arrange a convenient time for disposal of your waste which should be wrapped in a clear plastic bag or thick gauge plastic sheeting and taken to:
Northampton Waste Transfer Station
Brackmills Industrial Estate
Tel: 0121 333 2118
Other licensed sites can offer a quotation for disposal of larger amounts or bonded asbestos. There are also companies who offer a collection service for asbestos.