Asbestos Still a Threat in 2018

Asbestos Still a Threat in 2018

This week a freedom of information request by the BBC found that 90% of UK hospital trusts run hospitals which contain asbestos.  This accounts for 198 of the 2011 trusts in the country.

It’s shocking that a material known to be so hazardous is still so widely present in the UK.  Crucially however, the news highlights just how far spread the use of asbestos was, and how the threat is still present day, despite the fact it was banned in 2000.

If asbestos can still be present in our hospitals, it poses the question where else can it be?  The impact of our past love affair with this cheap commodity is still very much felt today.  Overall it’s a stark reminder that asbestos is not yet consigned to the past and it is a serious threat that cannot be ignored.


Asbestos exposure is still happening

Although the vast majority of asbestos contact occurred in the past, it still happens today.  The most at risk are construction workers who spend time on old building sites where asbestos may be present, however homeowners can be at risk when renovating too.

Fortunately there are stringent regulations in place to help protect workers, however it is still very important to be mindful that the threat may still exist and should be taken seriously.


Protecting yourself

  • Any property built before the year 2000 could house asbestos containing materials (ACMs).
  • If asbestos is not removed from a property an effective management plan should be in place.
  • If you are unsure whether your property contains asbestos, give yourself peace of mind with an asbestos survey.

How does Asbestos Removal Work

How does Asbestos Removal Work

Most people are aware that handling and simply coming into contact with asbestos can be seriously harmful to health.  After confirmation that your home or commercial premises harbours asbestos you may be advised to have it removed (although sometimes an asbestos management plan can be drawn up if it poses no risk).


Always use a professional

Asbestos is extremely hazardous and complex to remove, it should always be carried out by an experienced professional.


The process explained

  • Preparing the area – Depending on where the asbestos is located and how much there is you may have to temporarily remove furnishings and yourself from the building. Sometimes it is possible to stay on the premises while the work takes place, usually however it is best if the property is vacated.
  • Containing the asbestos – The asbestos must be contained so that it does not become airborne and reach other areas. Plastic sheeting may be used to help keep the fibres contained.
  • Filtering the air – While the removal takes place specialist HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters) are used to trap asbestos dust particles and prevent them from escaping the contaminated area.
  • Removing the asbestos – Removal may involve applying moisture so that the asbestos particles are heavier and less likely to become airborne. Manageable pieces of asbestos or contaminated materials are double bagged and removed from the property.  Once removed from the property the asbestos containing materials are taken to specialist sites to be incinerated.


Ensuring the area is safe

An important part of the removal process is ensuring the building is safe to enter again.  Once the asbestos has been removed the property must be declared safe with an air quality test.  Testing the air allows specialists to determine if any asbestos fibres remain present in the property or not.

A safe, standard level is less than 0.01 fibres per cubic centimetre (recognised in the UK).  Once this level has been reached, the containment area can be taken down and the area thoroughly cleaned.


How long does the process take?

This depends on the amount of asbestos there is.  Smaller amounts can be safely removed within a day, however larger projects may take up to a week to safely remove.

When Should You Remove Asbestos?

When Should You Remove Asbestos?

Asbestos is well known as a dangerous substance since it was fully banned in the UK in 1999.  Once breathed in the fibers can eventually lead to serious health issues, including cancer.

Upon discovery that your property has or might have asbestos it is only natural to want it gone.  It might seem counterintuitive but when it comes to the best methods for dealing with asbestos, removal isn’t always the right choice.

Buy why? If it’s so dangerous shouldn’t it be removed as soon as it is discovered?

Asbestos is most dangerous when it is disturbed and the fibers are released into the air, this includes attempting to remove it.  Definitely do not try to remove it yourself, or hire someone inexperienced.

While this is true for most cases, the only way to know for sure is with an

.  By getting a survey from an experienced asbestos survey company, you will be able to determine exactly what state the asbestos is in and whether removal is needed or not.

Removal Can Pose a High Risk

Sometimes removal is not the best cause of action.  In some cases removing asbestos containing materials poses a high risk in both the removal and disposal process and you may be advised against it.

If it is out of the way it may be less likely to be disturbed and any deteriorating fibers are kept away.  One of the methods to managing asbestos is to make it safe by containing it.  This means that even if any fibers are released through deterioration they will be contained and you won’t be at risk from breathing it in.

Cost Can Play a Role

Asbestos removal is time consuming and costly. It can also be disruptive to businesses and homeowners. For these reasons alone many people opt for a maintenance plan instead.  This doesn’t mean it is an inferior, or less safe option.  In a lot of cases little action if any is required. So long as the asbestos is contained or not disturbed it doesn’t pose a risk.

If money and disruption isn’t a concern you may choose to have the asbestos removed for complete peace of mind.  Again, before making this decision be sure to have a survey to ensure that the asbestos can be safely removed.

Thinking of Refurbishing? You Need an Asbestos Survey..

One case where removal may be needed is if you plan to do any refurbishments.  Since such work can disturb the asbestos, it may be necessary to have it removed before the work commences.  It all depends on the location of the asbestos.  Again, as asbestos has no obvious warning signs, it is critical to know where all, if any asbestos is in your property.  The only way to know this is through a professional survey.

Other people are having asbestos removed, does that mean I should?

Asbestos is being removed from buildings up and down the country all the time, but that doesn’t mean it is unsafe to leave it.  Every case is different and removal isn’t always the appropriate cause of action. In most cases it is perfectly safe to keep it where it is, with the appropriate measures the dangerous fibers can be kept from being released and the asbestos poses no threat.   Never assume this to be true without first getting a professional survey done!


What Are the Risks of Asbestos

What Are the Risks of Asbestos

What is Asbestos and why was it used?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used in construction for thousands of years.   It was a cheap, convenient material used in buildings for its strength, ability to add insulation and fire resistance.

The use of asbestos was widespread in the 1930s – 1960s.  For many years the reported dangers of asbestos were ignored, particularly by the construction industry.  It wasn’t until the 70s that regulations came into force once the dangers of asbestos were more known.

What are the dangers of asbestos?

Asbestos is very harmful to human health.   Once released into the air and breathed in, asbestos particles can remain in the lungs for many years and cannot be removed.  In the worst cases asbestos exposure can lead to lung disease and cancer.  Symptoms do not always present themselves until many years down the line, which is what makes it so hard to spot.

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, however most problems occur with repeated exposure.

It is important to remember that buildings built with asbestos are generally safe.  The risk to health only occurs when the asbestos has been disturbed.

Use of asbestos was not fully banned until 1999, so houses and buildings built up until this period could still have asbestos containing materials present.

If you are concerned, you can put yourself at ease with an inspection from a reputable asbestos survey company.

Who is at risk from asbestos?

The people most at risk from asbestos are those doing work in old buildings such as roofers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and even homeowners doing DIY.

People may come into contact with asbestos through drilling, or cutting into walls or removing roof tiles.

As a building owner, especially commercially, proper steps must be taken to manage the risks associated with asbestos.

There is far less chance of coming into contact with asbestos containing materials today.  Strict regulations help to protect workers.  By knowing that asbestos is present procedures can be put in place to keep people working on older buildings safe.

If you are not sure whether your home contains asbestos or not, it is safest to not drill or cut until you are sure that the area is safe.

Asbestos is still present in many buildings and there is still a risk that should not be ignored, even for homeowners.

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