Could You Spot Asbestos?
Recognising asbestos when it is present is important.
Asbestos is no longer used as a building material in the UK, but experts estimate that as many as 50% of our homes could contain asbestos in some shape or form.
Asbestos was used for a wide number of uses, and if it is contained in something like your cavity wall insulation, it is perfectly safe to leave it where it is.
Asbestos only damages health when it is disturbed, but part of the reason that asbestos is still causing health problems is that it is so difficult to spot.
Know the Danger Zones
As recognising asbestos can be so difficult to spot, it is often best to assume there is asbestos in your house unless you can prove otherwise.
Modern 21st century new builds will not normally contain asbestos, but any other age of property could.
The most common place for asbestos to be found is in ceiling coatings such as Artex, in boiler ventilation ducts or flues, floor tiles, water tanks, insulation and cement ceilings.
If you have your suspicions about parts of your home, consider paying around £200 for a full asbestos sampling survey.
A professional contractor will visit the home to take samples and work out whether your floor tiles or insulation contains asbestos or not.
If you are buying a new property a full survey may flag up the possibility of asbestos, but will not usually go as far as a professional asbestos survey.
Blue, Brown and White Asbestos
The three main types of asbestos which were used in building were known as blue, brown and white asbestos but these names are misleading as many of the asbestos products used in our homes are not coloured blue, brown or white.
All are equally dangerous, but products containing blue and brown asbestos cause most illnesses and deaths as they were used in the most products.
Asbestos was often mixed with other materials such as cement, and although a roof sheet may be described as “asbestos”, it could be 10% asbestos and 90% cement or concrete.
Asbestos In Artex
Artex is a brand name for the swirled or stippled ceiling covering which we used throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and until 1984, Artex and other similar products were made using asbestos.
If you have an Artex ceiling which dates from that time, it probably does contain asbestos.
Artex is responsible for 30% of the asbestos in UK homes.
Don’t be tempted to sand it down to see what it looks like underneath, or chip bits off to see how thick it is.
The Health and Safety Executive recommend that the safest way of dealing with asbestos in ceiling coatings is just to paint over it and leave it in place.
If you must have it removed, a professional asbestos disposal contractor must be brought in to remove it safely.
However, the cost of removing a textured ceiling containing asbestos is around £1,500 so it is more economical to either paint over it and live with the swirls, or get it skimmed over with plaster which will make the ceiling flat again.
Where to next?