Asbestos FAQ's

With its widespread use in construction and manufacturing in our recent history, Asbestos still poses serious danger and health risks.

We put together a list of the top most frequently asked questions about Asbestos, the law around its safe handling, and effects it can have on health.

Whether you’re a homeowner, contractor, or concerned individual, Fibresafe can provide clarity and understanding on a very real danger many of us face in the UK.

For specific, tailored advice on how to manage your asbestos situation, contact us and we’ll get straight back to you.

asbestos waste fibre safe

Why is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos is dangerous primarily due to its microscopic fibres, which can become airborne when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed or damaged.

When inhaled or ingested, these fibres can lodge themselves in the lungs or digestive tract, causing serious health issues over time. Long-term exposure to asbestos has been linked to diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

These illnesses might not affect you immediately, and they typically take a large amount of time to develop. What’s more, by the time they are diagnosed, it’s often too late for effective intervention. That’s why safeguarding yourself now is paramount.

Although currently banned in the UK, asbestos is not just a problem of the past. Asbestos was used widely in construction and manufacturing, and it can still be present today in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000.

How many people die from asbestos annually?

In the UK, more than 5000 people die each year from asbestos related diseases.

When was asbestos used in homes in the UK?

Asbestos was most commonly used between the 1960s and 1980s, in the building and refurbishment of houses, flats and buildings. Beyond this time, asbestos was also often used as far back as the 1930s, all the way up until the year 2000. Unless you have records of an asbestos survey, or any removal records, it’s always safe to assume any building constructed before 2000 can contain asbestos.

When was asbestos banned in the UK?

Asbestos was fully banned from late November 1999. On that basis, many people tend to use a cut-off date of 2000. From late November 1999 in the UK it was illegal to buy, sell, import or export any materials containing asbestos. The first asbestos bans were introduced in the UK in 1985, banning the import and use of blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos. But it wasn’t until 1999 that all types of asbestos became completely prohibited.

Due to the differing applications of Asbestos, certain products commonly found in buildings were banned at different times. We review in detail the different times in which asbestos was banned in the UK here.

What are the symptoms of asbestos exposure?

Symptoms of asbestos exposure usually involve the lungs, following exposure more often than not occurring through inhalation. Respiratory conditions like pleural mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. The respiratory symptoms to be aware of include shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, and further complications like the coughing of blood, lung infections, and asbestosis. While less common, ingestion of asbestos can also contribute to peritoneal mesothelioma cases. Abdominal swelling and distention, pain in the abdomen, back, groin and pelvis. Alongside difficulty swallowing, bowel obstruction, or muscle loss.

How long does it take for asbestos to show symptoms?

The majority of individuals do not exhibit immediate reactions to asbestos exposure. While coughing may occur if exposed to significant asbestos dust, there are typically no discernible signs or symptoms during or shortly after exposure to this hazardous mineral.

How bad is one time exposure to asbestos?

Any level of asbestos exposure carries a risk. The risk of serious illness is greater for individuals exposed to high levels of asbestos, even if the exposure is brief. Furthermore, repeated short-term exposures, even at lower levels, will increase the likelihood of developing asbestos-related illnesses over time. One time, or short term exposure, of low levels of asbestos, poses relatively low health risks. Those at most risk of developing health issues, will have experienced chronic or long-term asbestos exposure.

What are the most common types of asbestos?

The three most common types of asbestos found in the UK are:

  • Chrysotile or White Asbestos
  • Amosite or Brown asbestos
  • Crocidolite or Blue asbestos

Although all asbestos is considered a high risk material, there are varying dangers depending on the different types of asbestos.

What does asbestos look like?

One of the big dangers of asbestos is that it can be present in a huge variety of unsuspecting places around the home or workplace. Below is a list of five of the most common places you will find asbestos, but please remember this list is not exhaustive. If you have any concerns about asbestos in your property, please get in touch for a professional survey.

  • Insulation: loose fill asbestos often found under floorboards, in cavity walls or in lofts.
  • Asbestos Cement: used as part of cement mixture, and dangerously looks exactly like normal cement.
  • Ceiling Tiles: asbestos insulation board, often used as a fireproofing material, very commonly found in ceiling tiles.
  • Sprayed Coatings: incredibly common in industrial and commercial premises, in sprayed insulation coatings applied to the underside of roofs and walls.
  • Textured Coatings: it was hugely popular in the 70s and 80s to decorate with textured coatings on ceilings and walls, like the famous Artex brand.
We put together further insight into where you can find asbestos in your home and also in your workplace.

What are the different types of asbestos surveys?

Due to the dangerous and sensitive nature of asbestos, when they are found in buildings, the law dictates you must conduct an asbestos survey. A property may require one type of asbestos survey, the other, or both. It will always depend on the use of the building and the work planned.

The two main types of asbestos surveys are

If you are not quite sure which survey is best for you, we compare the best use cases for each survey type here.

Do I Need An Asbestos Survey To Sell My Home?

No, there is no legal requirement for a seller to provide a buyer with an asbestos report. Whether you are selling a house or a flat. It’s worth noting, that although not a legal requirement, some mortgage lenders, estate agents and insurance companies may require an asbestos survey before selling a flat with common areas like the entrance or hallways.

When buying a new home, it’s worth bearing in mind that asbestos is not covered in a home buyers survey. If you are considering buying a property, especially if has been built between 1960-1980, it is a safe decision to enlist the help of an asbestos survey provider such as Fibre Safe. Our surveys for first time buyers are undertaken by time-served and competent surveyors with the prime purpose of highlighting asbestos-containing materials within the property.

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