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  • Tips for Asbestos Disposal


    Coming across asbestos can be daunting; it doesn’t matter if you are a homeowner doing DIY or a contractor working on a commercial job; asbestos can put a hold on any work, so getting it sorted effectively and efficiently is important. 

    Below, we will discuss the different types of asbestos, what to do if you come across it and what you should do to get rid of it. 

    What is asbestos & what are the two categories of asbestos? 

    Asbestos is a term used for a group of naturally occurring mineral fibres. These fibres are resilient against heat and chemicals, strong, and neither dissolve in water nor evaporate. Asbestos fibres are categorised into two main sub-groups: 

    1. White Asbestos

    Also known as chrysotile, it is the most common type of asbestos used, its flexible fibres were ideal for roofing, flooring, and insulation. Its resistance to heat made it common in brake linings and fire-resistant textiles, significantly utilised due to perceived lower health risks than other forms.

    2. Brown and Blue Asbestos

    Two types of asbestos, known as amphiboles, are said to be the more harmful asbestos due to their fibre’s effects on the lungs. They are known for their insulation and fireproofing applications

    What are the dangers of asbestos? 

    Whilst it is possible to have asbestos on your property and not be in danger, it has to be said that there is no safe level of asbestos to inhale. 

    Any exposure to asbestos can cause long-term and life-shortening health issues, and the risks of developing these health issues grow with more and more exposure to the hazardous material. 

    Breathing in asbestos at high concentrations or over a sustained period mainly affects the lungs with a disease called Asbestosis, where it becomes difficult to breathe, and the heart can become inflamed and enlarged. Asbestosis is not instant and can take many years to develop; you can also have a higher risk of cancer. If you are exposed to asbestos in low concentration but over a sustained period, you can suffer the thickening of the lung lining, which, whilst not fatal, may make you more susceptible to lung cancers. 

    When was asbestos banned in the UK?

    Due to the health issues associated with asbestos, it is banned in the UK. This started with the ban on Brown and Blue asbestos in 1985 and then on White asbestos in 1999. 

    Why was asbestos used so much? 

    Asbestos was used so much because of its inherent properties. Not only is it cheap to make, but it is strong, offers great heat insulation and is resistant to fire, water, and chemical substances. 

    As a building material, it seemed the perfect choice. It has been used in various applications, from insulation for boilers and pipes to adding cement to create roofing sheets.

    Before 1999, using asbestos as a building material was commonplace, and this means that we are still dealing with it today

    How many buildings have asbestos?

    It was thought to be a great building material and was first used in the UK around the 1870s up until it was banned in 1999. There are an estimated 1.5 million buildings that are thought to contain some asbestos still. This includes homes and many public buildings, such as schools and hospitals.

    What should I do if I find asbestos? 

    When intact and undisturbed, asbestos-containing materials present minimal risk. However, the danger escalates when these materials are damaged, releasing asbestos fibres into the environment.

    This release primarily occurs during activities such as demolition, building repairs, maintenance, and, notably, do-it-yourself (DIY) projects within buildings that contain asbestos. It is during these times that you must exercise utmost caution to prevent exposure.

    Exposure to asbestos can occur in various ways. Inhalation of airborne fibres is the most common route, posing significant health risks. Although less common, individuals may ingest asbestos fibres if they enter the soil or water supply. This could happen through erosion from materials such as asbestos-cement. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that, to date, ingested asbestos fibres have not been conclusively linked to health issues, according to existing evidence.

    The likelihood of exposure is significantly heightened for those working in areas with a high risk of disturbing asbestos-containing materials, such as demolition, asbestos removal, or building maintenance. In such scenarios, following stringent safety protocols to minimise airborne fibre release is crucial.

    What should you do if you are exposed to asbestos in your home?

    If you encounter intact asbestos materials that are not likely to be disturbed, they generally do not pose a threat. However, should you come into contact with asbestos fibres, immediate steps should be taken to minimise exposure. Avoid any actions that could make the fibres airborne—such as shaking out clothes or brushing off dust—as this increases the risk of inhalation.

    If fibres are present on your skin or clothing, carefully wipe them off with a damp cloth using a gentle patting motion. Any contaminated clothing should be carefully removed (avoid pulling over the head) and sealed in a bag along with the used damp cloth. It is then essential to seek advice from your local authority regarding properly disposing of these materials.

    In the event of health concerns following exposure to asbestos, consultation with a healthcare provider or contact with NHS 111 for guidance is advised. Such measures ensure that potential risks are addressed swiftly and appropriately, safeguarding your health and well-being.

    How to dispose of asbestos? 

    Disposing of asbestos takes specialist equipment and techniques to reduce exposure to harmful fibres that do not go into the air, causing harm to the person disposing of the asbestos and any people in the surrounding area. 

    The only safe way to dispose of asbestos is to hire a specialist removal company to ensure that all asbestos and any asbestos-contaminated materials are cleared away from the area. 

    Specialist teams use protective overalls and ventilators to stay safe whilst working and will douse the asbestos in water before starting working to stop fibres from becoming airborne. They will continue to use water sprays whilst working in batches until they can get the asbestos into the specialist skip and ready to be transported away. 

    What happens to asbestos once it has been disposed of? 

    All asbestos is classed as a hazardous material and is legally required to be disposed of in a way that ensures it is disposed of at minimal risk to the public and its surroundings. 

    All asbestos disposed of is taken to a special asbestos landfill site. These sites are clearly signposted, away from any area that the general public could stumble across. All containers housing asbestos are clearly bagged and labelled to ensure they are not accidentally opened.  

    Call in the asbestos specialists

    If you are in the South West and discover what you think is asbestos, our qualified team of specialists can help you legally and safely dispose of it. So you don’t have to worry about coming into contact with it and breathing in any of its harmful fibres. 

    To find out more about our asbestos disposal service or any of our other hazardous waste disposal services, you can reach out to your local team at Gloucestershire: 01453 701230 Bristol & Bath: 0117 941 2555 Somerset: 01458 274654, or simply email and one of our specialists will help talk you through the process. 

    Tips for Asbestos Disposal
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