It is estimated by the British Lung Foundation (BLF) that there could be asbestos present in as many as 14 million homes in the UK, which is around half of all residential properties. This is because, from the 1940s until the last form of asbestos was banned from use in 1999, this deadly material was widely used in the construction and home improvement industry.
Asbestos was commonly used by the housing industry as an ingredient in cement, insulation and insulating boards, pipe lagging, flooring and flooring adhesives and was even mixed into some toilets and cisterns.
Asbestos in the home is usually not a danger to owners and occupiers whilst it is in good condition and left undisturbed. However, if renovation, restoration or demolition is due to take place, this could be an area of concern and a proper assessment should be carried out. Alternatively, if the material that contains the asbestos starts to degrade, this can also result in the release of harmful fibres and may mean that the material needs sealing, enclosing or removing.
What should you do if you come across asbestos whilst working on your home?
If you’re doing a DIY project at home and believe that you have come across a material containing asbestos, you should stop working immediately and call in the experts. It is best to ensure that asbestos materials are removed or repaired by a trained and licensed contractor.
If you have hired builders to work on your home, you should inform them if you already know that asbestos is present. An assessment can be carried out to determine the extent of the asbestos present and whether a specialist firm needs to perform any remedial or removal work.
You can find more information on what to do and who to contact if you find asbestos in your home at the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website or by contacting an environmental health officer through your local council.