Asbestos Removal Guide For 2021
Date : Apr 29, 2021
Author : DR A Zayed
For many years asbestos was used in everything from insulation and masonry to ceramic tiles. However, it got banned from use in the UK in 1999 because of the health risks it posed to humans.
Unfortunately, homes and buildings constructed before 1999 still have asbestos, which means people living and working in them can get exposed to asbestos fibres and experience severe health issues. That’s why there’s a need for asbestos removal services.
Here, we will look at various aspects of asbestos removal and how you should go about it. Continue reading to learn more…
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural hazardous material with extremely fine fibres, which can remain suspended in the air for hours. There are several types of asbestos, but the main ones include white (Chrysotile), Blue (Crocidolite), and Brown (Amosite).
Mined worldwide, asbestos was imported into the UK in the 1960s for construction purposes. Because of its versatility, it got adopted and used in over 2000 products. However, the legal use of asbestos products other than some specialists stopped in 1999.
But if not handled with caution, the fibres from asbestos can result in chronic health problems. Common diseases caused by asbestos fibres include lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.
These diseases can cause serious financial burdens and long-term economic and social problems for patients and their families.
Common Asbestos-Containing Products
Since asbestos can’t burn, it was used in many products to resist heat. Asbestos fibres are not visible to the human eye, so it’s hard to identify them.
For this reason, people need to be aware of the common asbestos-containing materials to prevent exposure.
- Roof shingles and siding
- Popcorn ceiling
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Plaster, putties, and caulking
- Drywall and cement sheets
- Electrical switchboard panels
- Plumbing fixtures
- Thermal boiler
- Fireplace installations
- Ceiling tiles and coatings
- Vermiculite installation
- Garage and shed roofs
- Bath panels
- Ironing boards
Asbestos was also mixed into plasters, and compounds used on ceilings and walls. Homeowners and construction workers might be at risk of asbestos exposure, especially when performing various renovations and remodels.
Importance of Asbestos Removal
When left undisturbed, asbestos poses no health risk. But when disturbed or damaged, the material can release fibres into the air, which can last for hours. Anyone who gets exposed to the air stands a high risk of inhaling the fibres and developing the mentioned diseases.
Proper removal of asbestos-containing material helps to reduce the danger of asbestos toxin to your life and the lives of individuals who come in contact with the fibres.
But before you proceed with asbestos removal UK, it’s wise to understand where you stand legally in terms of potential asbestos on your property.
If you own a property constructed before 2002. It’s your legal duty to ensure that both employees and non-employees do not get exposed to health and safety risks associated with the presence of unmanaged asbestos.
Over 1.5 million properties in the UK have materials containing asbestos. Most of the properties are commercial or industrial buildings. It’s the role of the property owner or caretaker to minimise and address the risk of asbestos fibres getting air-bone, putting the lives of everyone else in danger.
If the existing asbestos materials are in perfect conditions and not likely damaged, you can leave them in place. But you must monitor and their state and ensure they don’t get disturbed.
If damaged, you will need to remove the asbestos from your property. But before taking this step, consider other available options.
How to Tell If Your Home Has Asbestos
It’s hard to identify asbestos visually. Most individuals compare the material they suspect to be asbestos to online images. While this might work, it’s not always reliable since asbestos comes in many forms.
If you suspect you have asbestos in your home, you can order a home test kit. The kit might cost £30 or more and will include instruction, bags for the sample, and the cost of laboratory testing.
But since asbestos can release toxic fibres, consider going for extensive kits. They often include personal protective equipment, such as masks, coveralls, gloves, and disposable wipes.
Research shows there’s no safe level of asbestos exposure. That’s why we recommend you prevent exposure by letting a professional surveyor handle the work.
A surveyor will search your property for any material that contains asbestos and collect samples. They will then send the sample to a UKAS-accredited laboratory for testing to establish whether asbestos is present, and the condition that it is in.
If the samples contain asbestos, a surveyor will propose a management plan so you can decide how to handle the problem.
The Asbestos Removal Process
Depending on the condition of asbestos material, asbestos removal companies UK may recommend encapsulation or removal.
Since we have already established asbestos exposure can lead to devastating health consequences, you’re better off leaving the removal process to professionals.
Encapsulation involves mechanically covering the asbestos material with a sealant. The sealants can include board, sheets, or coating with a special adhesive. This helps to trap the asbestos fibres and protect the material from further damage. The technician will recommend the best encapsulation method.
Once encapsulated, professionals may add labels to the protective layers to inform others of the presence of asbestos material. Property owners and surveyors should periodically check the area to ensure it remains in excellent condition.
Before encapsulation or removal of asbestos, professionals will do the following:
1. Clear out all furniture and personal belonging from the affected area
2. Turn off the air conditioning system and seal doors and vents to prevent asbestos fibres from circulating
3. Seal off the work area with plastic sheeting
4. Place all asbestos materials in clearly marked, leak-tight bag or containers
5. Use wet cleanup tools and HEPA filter vacuums to clean the workspace
The experts must wear PPEs, including a full-face mask of respirator, coveralls, boots, and rubber gloves. The professionals may spray water to dampen the asbestos to reduce the risk of contamination. They will also remove the asbestos while keeping it as intact as possible.
When finished, the workers must adhere to decontamination protocols. For instance, they should dispose any soiled clothes. Also, they must shower in a clean room away from the site of working before changing into clean clothes.
Disposing of Asbestos After Removal
After removal, disposing of asbestos UK is the next process. Professionals should dispose of all asbestos under the local council’s regulations.
Asbestos materials ready for disposal are considered asbestos-containing waste. They can contain 0.1% weight-for-weight asbestos. It includes contaminated building materials, damp rags used during cleaning, PPEs, and contaminated tools.
When disposing of asbestos roof sheets, professionals should pack them in UN-approved packing with a CDG hazard label and visible asbestos code details. The specialist must also double bag, wrap and label the waste.
You must not attempt to do this work yourself unless you have received training and have the needed equipment. Only carriers licensed to carry asbestos waste can transport the hazardous materials to the disposal site. The waste then gets buried in a designated disposal location.
Finding and Hiring Asbestos Professionals
The best way to find an asbestos expert is by checking the HSE’s list of asbestos license holders. There you will find a list of licensed companies that can survey and perform asbestos encapsulation or removal. The HSE list updated every week.
Before hiring a professional contractor or surveyor, consider asking them for the training and qualifications. This way, you can have peace of mind that you and your family will remain safe while they’re working.
Check for accreditations and training programs from the following organisations:
- United Kingdom Asbestos Training (UKATA)
- Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH)
- British Occupation Hygiene Society (BOHS)
- Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA)
Also, check if your surveyor or contractor has an HSE license. And if you hire a surveyor to collect samples, he or she should submit the sample to a lab accredited by United Kingdom Accreditation Service.
Remember, the individual who removes asbestos waste from your property must possess a Hazardous Waste Carrier license.
After checking all for qualification and licensing, you can ask the contractor or surveyor a few questions to know if they can assure the safety of you and your family.
Are you dealing with asbestos? Do you want to keep yourself protected from asbestos toxic fibres and dust?
Well, don’t disturb the asbestos material and keep away from the area. Consider hiring an expert with enough expertise to handle the removal and encapsulation process.
Do your research to find the right company. Also, the contractors should provide you with a written work plan detailing how they will remove and clean up the area. The right asbestos removal company will ensure your property remains free from asbestos and safe for living.
Keep in mind asbestos is dangerous once damaged or disturbed, so take the necessary precautions.
With that said, we hope the above guide has given you some insights into asbestos removal. Thank you for stopping by!