If you live in a property that was built before 2000, asbestos may have been used in the construction of you building or during alterations. This guidance provides information on asbestos in the home.
In these cases, it is important to take extra precautions when doing work on your home.
Should I be worried?
A material that contains asbestos is only dangerous if it is damaged and the asbestos fibres are released into the air and then inhaled. This can happen during some maintenance or DIY activities like drilling, cutting, and, most of all, sanding. If you are a tenant and planning any DIY that involves these kinds of activities, you will need to get approval from your Housing Officer first.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a strong fibrous rock, which can resist heat and chemicals and was commonly used in building materials to provide insulation or a fire barrier. Asbestos was used between the 1950s and 1980s, so many properties built during this period are likely to contain some asbestos.
From the early 1980s asbestos stopped being used in the construction of properties but was not finally banned until the late 1990s.
It is not easy to tell if a product contains asbestos. The difference can often only be seen under a microscope at a specialist laboratory.
When is asbestos a problem?
A material that contains asbestos is only dangerous if it is damaged and the asbestos fibres are released into the air and then inhaled. This can happen during some maintenance or DIY activities like drilling, cutting, and, most of all, sanding.
If you are planning any DIY that involves these kinds of activities, you must get approval from your housing officer first. They can also help you get advice on asbestos.
When we breathe, our bodies provide some protection by removing different fibres and particles. Sometimes if asbestos fibres cannot be removed, they may become lodged deep in the lungs. This can eventually lead to asbestos-related diseases. There is usually a very long delay between having contact with asbestos fibres and illness; often between 15 and 60 years and the risk is greater if you are exposed more frequently. Trades people like carpenters and electricians, who are exposed to high levels over a long period of time, are among those who typically go on to develop asbestos-related illnesses
Places you might find asbestos in the home:
- Eaves and fascia boards
- Down pipes (drains)
- Roof sheets, garage and shed roofs
- Roof tiles and exterior cladding
- Textured decorative ceiling and wall coatings (Artex)
- Floor and ceiling tiles
- Panels on fire doors and infill panels near windows, doors, etc.
- Panels behind radiators and heaters
- Interior boiler fabric, boiler flue and panels around the boiler
- Behind storage heaters and other equipment like fuse boxes
- Bath panels and cisterns
- Pads fixed to the underside of sinks
- Water tanks and pipe laggings
What do I need to do now?
Check was your house built before 2000. If so, it may contain asbestos. Contact your Housing Officer to ask them for advice on asbestos before you do any DIY. Your Housing Officer will advise you on what to do. This could involve emh sending specialists out to remove the asbestos. Once your Housing Officer has said it is OK, you will be able to make improvements to your home safely.
What can I do to prevent the release of asbestos fibres?
If you are planning any home improvements and think you may have asbestos in your home, always talk to us first. Even if there is asbestos in your home, it will not cause any problem unless it becomes disturbed or is damaged.
If you suspect that materials containing asbestos have been damaged, speak to your Housing Officer. We will check if we already hold information about the material or can arrange a survey to find out if asbestos is present. If asbestos is found, we will give you details of what will be done.
We will provide information to all our customers. However, the sampling of material is a service we only consider for tenants. Remember, asbestos is not dangerous so long as it is in good condition. However, where this is not the case, we will deal with it in a safe and appropriate way.
Please remember: You must get authorisation from your Housing Officer if you want to carry out any works or redecoration at your property.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Don’t drill, sand, saw or otherwise disturb any material which may contain asbestos.
- Don’t carry out DIY work on any part of your home which you think may contain asbestos.
- Do soak wallpaper before removing it and, if possible, use a steam stripper before gently peeling away the paper before decorating.
- Don’t try to remove any textured coatings (like Artex) from ceilings.
- Do wash areas of flaking paint before repainting.
- Don’t try to remove old floor tiles or linoleum. Please leave them in place and lay new floor coverings over them.
- Do remember that asbestos can be hazardous to health if handled incorrectly.
How does emh manage asbestos?
The law says that we must survey the common parts of buildings we own for asbestos but not in homes themselves, unless we are carrying out work. We also survey empty properties we own.
We have a register of where asbestos has been found, removed or is presumed to be present. This information is checked by our contractors so they take precautions to keep everyone safe when carrying out work. Our employees and our contractors have asbestos awareness training appropriate to their job, and contractors are trained to stop work immediately if they discover material which they think might contain asbestos.
If this is the case, we will carry out tests to find out if asbestos is present. If we need to do work that might damage or disturb asbestos we will remove the material, using qualified and licensed contractors.
Where we are doing major work which involves asbestos, we will provide you with information on how it will be removed and what precautions will be taken to prevent the release of any asbestos fibres.
We are committed to ensuring that materials containing asbestos are kept in good condition and removed when necessary.
Current advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that if materials containing asbestos are in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed, then leaving them alone presents the least risk to health. This is because removal can lead to higher levels of fibres in the air.
We check the condition of all asbestos materials from time to time to make sure they have not become damaged or started to deteriorate.
If you carry out any work or permit others to carry out work without prior written approval, you will be liable for any costs of dealing with any asbestos incidents.