Why may asbestos be a problem?
Asbestos fibres are strong and resistant to both heat and chemicals. This led to asbestos being used in a wide range of building materials and products, often as heat or sound insulation or as fireproofing.
Asbestos has been used widely for many years so there is a very low level of it in the air everywhere. However, this low level is unlikely to harm anyone’s health.
Damaged or deteriorating asbestos materials release more asbestos fibres into the air, so levels may be higher in buildings where this has happened. It is unlikely such levels will harm health but if you have any damaged or deteriorating asbestos materials in your home you should seek advice.
Seeking advice about asbestos
When you sign up for a new tenancy you will be given a copy of an information sheet. It is important that you read it and keep it together with your folder in a safe place.
If you need more advice contact the asbestos team on 023 8083 2170.
Is asbestos banned?
The use of asbestos products in any building, repair or maintenance work has been gradually phased out since the 1980’s. Its use was completely banned in 1999. Any home built since the mid-1980’s is unlikely to contain asbestos.
There is no requirement to remove asbestos products that were there before the ban if they present no risk. However, care must be taken of them to ensure no such risks occur.
Where can asbestos be found in the home?
Building materials containing asbestos were widely used from 1930 to the 1980’s so homes built or refurbished during this time may contain some asbestos. It is not always easy to tell whether a product contains asbestos, as modern asbestos-free products often look similar. If in doubt seek advice.
The types of materials containing asbestos that may be found in homes are
This has been used for fire protection, heat and sound insulation, for example ceiling tiles, bath panels, wall linings, infill panels and partitions. It is more common in homes built in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is unlikely to be found in a home built after the mid-1980’s. Loft or cavity wall insulation does not normally contain asbestos.
These are the most widely used asbestos material. They include (for example)
Fire surrounds, flue pipes and cold water tank
Guttering and drain-pipes
Roofing tiles and wall cladding
Roofing and cladding for garages and sheds.
This use has declined sharply since 1976 and was banned completely in 1999. Asbestos-cement products are unlikely to release high levels of asbestos fibres because of the way they are made, unless they are subject to extreme abrasion.
What should I do if I suspect there is asbestos in my home?
Firstly, seek advice from your housing office. Ask for the latest information on any asbestos in your home.
If you feel sure that there is asbestos not mentioned in the report, then your housing office will ask for a surveyor to visit your home to do a survey.
We will then take whatever action is needed as a result of the survey. We may need to remove or seal any damaged materials and we will give you advice on the material(s) concerned.
What can be done if there is asbestos in my home?
Asbestos material in good condition that cannot easily be damaged.
The general rule for asbestos in the home is; if it is in good condition and undisturbed it is safe if left alone.
It is only a problem in the home if it is in poor condition (e.g. crumbling or flaking) or it is damaged, drilled into, sawn or wallpaper is scraped off it. Avoid disturbing or damaging asbestos materials in good condition.
If you are having work done and have asbestos in your home, always tell the builders or trades people before they start work.
- Asbestos material that is slightly damaged
This can sometimes be repaired by sealing or enclosing it. We will do the most appropriate work for the particular material and circumstance.
- Asbestos material that is badly damaged or deteriorating
Once we are aware that this has happened, we will remove it. Some asbestos materials must always be removed by contractors with a special licence issued by the government. We employ these contractors to do such work and they have to follow strict regulations. Do not attempt the work yourself.
- Avoid disturbing or damaging asbestos materials in good condition
- If you have damaged or deteriorating asbestos materials in your home the seek advice from your housing office.
Take care when doing DIY
When doing DIY work it is your responsibility to ensure you do not damage or disturb an asbestos containing materials. If any asbestos material is preventing you from crying out vial work contact your housing office for advice. Do not interfere with any asbestos containing materials yourself.
You are reminded that before doing any alterations to your home you must get written permission from your housing office as well as any legal requirements such a building regulations or planning permission.
How should I dispose of asbestos?
If you have or thing you may have anything containing asbestos that needs disposal contact your housing office for advice. Do not attempt to dispose of anything containing asbestos without first getting specific advice first.