If your property was built before 1990, it is possible that it contains materials made from asbestos. Asbestos fibres are strong and resistant to heat and chemicals. In the past, this led to their use in a wide range of building materials and products.
Properties built since the mid-1980s are very unlikely to contain asbestos in the fabric of the building. Properties built after 1990 are extremely unlikely to contain asbestos anywhere in the building. Asbestos cement has been widely used as a cladding material and can still be found in garages and sheds.
All materials containing asbestos can be harmful if fibres are inhaled. In recent years a number of alternative or substitute products have been developed.
Asbestos is a naturally occuring mineral made up of many small fibres of which there are three main types.
The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) confirms that there is a very low level of fibres in the air everywhere because asbestos has been used so extensively in the past. Exposure to this low level of fibres is unlikely to harm people's health.
High, short-term exposure to asbestos fibres can occur during do-it-yourself (DIY) work. For this reason, try not to raise dust when working with materials which might contain asbestos and avoid sanding or drilling. If in doubt, do not touch it.
Where will you find asbestos products or materials in your home?
It is not always easy to tell whether a product contains asbestos, as modern asbestos-free materials often look similar - remember it is usually older products that contain asbestos.
The following areas and appliances are where asbestos may be found:
Identifying asbestos products can be difficult but If you think a product contains asbestos but are unsure, the manufacturer or supplier should be able to help you. Alternatively, contact Castle Point Borough Council using the information given below.
Remember, products containing asbestos can look very similar to those not containing asbestos - if in doubt SEEK ADVICE.
Do not panic if you have asbestos materials in your home. Remember, if the asbestos materials are in good condition, removal should not be necessary and disturbance of such materials by non-specialists could in fact cause more risk to your or your family's health.
If you suspect that you have asbestos materials in your home, extra care should be taken when doing DIY.
DO NOT attempt work on sprayed asbestos, lagging or insulating boards, as this must be undertaken by a licensed asbestos removal contractor. If in doubt, SEEK ADVICE.
Do not drill, cut or disturb asbestos unless absolutely necessary. Do not scrape or sand asbestos materials before painting and decorating. Some types of asbestos materials are very soft and can release large numbers of fibres if rubbed or scraped.
Basically, you should never be in a position where you have asbestos to dispose of. Asbestos waste is a toxic and dangerous waste which must be disposed of properly. It is against the law to put any asbestos waste in a dustbin - SEEK ADVICE from the council about making arrangements for collection and disposal at a designated site.
Further information and advice on asbestos is available from a number of sources.
You should contact an Environmental Health Officer.
You could consult your general practitioner or health board if you are concerned about your own health or the health of a member of your family and think that you or they have been exposed to asbestos.
For general advice on asbestos, you can also contact the Health and Safety Executive: (www.hse.gov.uk), telephone : 0300 003 1647
The basic rule is, if in doubt ask. Castle Point Borough Council is here to help.