Nobody in the UK these days can be unaware of the potential dangers of asbestos, there’s plenty of information available. However, how do you identify asbestos and discover if you have asbestos in your home? Asbestos was commonly used in building materials right up until it was banned in the UK in 1999. Even worse, asbestos was also used in many household products, so we’re taking a look at the most common uses of asbestos so that you can identify whether asbestos poses a health risk to you and your family.
Asbestos was widely used in building materials between 1930 and 1980, particularly from the sixties onwards. Houses and flats built or refurbished during those years may contain asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACMs). Find out when your home was built and the date of any major refurbishments to see if asbestos is likely to be present.Some of the applications of asbestos or ACMs are found below:
- Insulating boards for fire protection, heat and sound insulation may contain 20 – 45% asbestos. This is particularly common in 1960’s and 1970’s system built housing and often appears in ducts, ceiling tiles, infill panels, wall linings, bath panels and partitions. It’s unlikely to appear in homes built since 1982.
- Asbestos lagging may have an asbestos content of 55 – 100%. This lagging material has been used for thermal insulation of pipes and boilers and was widely used in public buildings and system built flats, especially in the areas of boiler housings and heating plants.
- Sprayed coatings were used for fire protection of structural steel and have an asbestos content up to 85%. This is commonly found in system built flats constructed during the 1960s. The coatings were mainly used around the core of the buildings, in lift shafts, service ducts, etc. Sprayed asbestos will need to be removed or sealed to prevent the fibres from entering the atmosphere and posing a health risk.
- Asbestos cement products may contain up to 40% asbestos and is found in many types of buildings as profiled sheets for wall cladding and roofing. It’s also found in flat sheets and partition boards that line walls and ceilings, in bath panels, soffit boards, fire surrounds, cold water tanks and flue pipes. It was also used for roofing tiles and slates and was commonly used for roofing and cladding garages and sheds, guttering and drainpipes. Asbestos cement products are unlikely to release high levels of fibres unless they’re subjected to extreme abrasion or weather damage.
- You may also find asbestos in household products such as oven gloves, ironing boards, seals on cooker doors and fire blankets. If you have any of these products, make sure they were manufactured after 1999 or dispose of them safely. Since 1976 British manufacturers have been required to label products that contain asbestos. Suppliers or manufacturers of these items may be able to let you know whether or not they contain asbestos, so reach out and get in touch if that’s possible.
If you’re in any doubt as to whether asbestos is present in your home, then seek advice from the professionals.