Asbestos

If your property is more than 15 years old, it is possible that it contains materials made from asbestos. Common locations are listed below but there may be others in your home. If you believe a structure contains asbestos, it should be left alone expert help should be sought from a licensed asbestos contractor.

Common locations of asbestos:

  • Asbestos cement on garage or shed roofs and wall panels;
  • Asbestos cement on drain pipes;
  • Asbestos cement on insulation board soffit, infill panels and partitions;
  • Asbestos cement on the side of bath panels.

If your home is rented, your landlord may have details of asbestos in the property.

What to do if you have asbestos in your home

The general rule is to always leave asbestos alone, it's usually safe unless it's damaged or disturbed.

  • Paint indoor materials with an alkali resistant paint such as PVA emulsion, and never sand, drill or saw asbestos materials;
  • Always seek advice before removing asbestos and follow the basic rules below if carrying out asbestos cement removal work. Do not attempt to remove asbestos lagging, spray coatings or large areas of insulation board by yourself as these materials can only be safely removed by a licensed contractor;
  • Sometimes it may be necessary for a licensed asbestos contractor to take a sample, for example to identify the type of asbestos.

Safe asbestos cement removal

Asbestos cement can be safely removed by remembering these basic rules:

  • Prepare the work area - remove any unnecessary items, cover the floor and surfaces with disposable polythene sheeting;
  • Wear protective clothing - disposable overall with hood, disposable paper face mask (for use with asbestos) and rubber or disposable gloves;
  • Damp down - use a plant sprayer or hosepipe but do not soak the area as this will make cleaning up more difficult;
  • Remove the asbestos without breaking it up, wrap in polythene sheeting or bags and seal with tape;
  • Visually inspect the area and clear up any debris by hand - wipe down with disposable damp cloths;
  • Never use a vacuum cleaner as this will spread asbestos dust;
  • Pick up polythene sheeting and remove protective clothing and dispose of both as asbestos waste;
  • Wash hands and face after the job is completed.

Disposal of asbestos waste

Waste Aware (part of Hertfordshire County Council) will collect very small amounts of asbestos. Further details are available from the Waste Aware website or 0300 123 4051.

Alternatively, licensed contractors should be contacted to dispose asbestos waste. The Environment Agency holds a list of approved contractors and can be contacted on 08708 506 506

Asbestos advice

  • Don't panic if you think you have asbestos in your home - it's usually only a problem if it's disturbed;
  • Do treat asbestos with respect;
  • Don't drill, saw or disturb materials that contain asbestos;
  • Do seek advice if you think you've got a problem with asbestos in your home or at work;
  • For further information on Asbestos telephone the HSE on 01787 881165.