What are the risks?
When asbestos materials age or become damaged they can release fibres into the air. These can be breathed deep into the lungs where they may stay for a long time, causing possible damage. Some people are exposed to low amounts of asbestos present in the atmosphere with no ill effects.
However when very high levels of asbestos fibres are inhaled there is a risk of developing serious lung diseases including pleural thickening, asbestosis and Mesothelioma. The symptoms of these diseases can often take between 20-40 years after exposure to materialise.
What should I do if I suspect there is asbestos in my home?
The general rule is to leave asbestos undisturbed. DIY work may result in brief but high levels of exposure to dangerous asbestos fibres. Asbestos is usually safe unless it is damaged or disturbed – for example by removing, drilling, sawing, scrubbing or sanding. If you believe you have asbestos materials in your home, extra care should be taken when undertaking any DIY. We would advise anyone against attempting to carry out work involving sprayed asbestos, lagging or insulating boards as this should always be undertaken by a licensed asbestos removal contractor.
- Avoid creating asbestos dust
- Avoid inhaling asbestos dust
- Asbestos materials in good condition should be left alone
- Take extra care when undertaking DIY projects
- Dispose of asbestos properly
If you would prefer to have asbestos materials in your house removed by regulated specialist removers (and this should always be the case when dealing with pipe lagging, sprayed asbestos or loose fibrous insulation) then there are companies who will undertake such work. They are generally referred to as ‘Licensed Contractors’ and current information can be obtained from the Health & Safety Executive’s Asbestos Licence Holders page.
Local authority search: https://local.direct.gov.uk/LDGRedirect/index.jsp?LGSL=415&LGIL=8&ServiceName=Find out about asbestos removal
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE)