Asbestos was a very popular building material in homes for many years. It does not catch fire easily, is not easily damaged by chemicals and stands up to a lot of wear. It also blocks noise and insulates buildings, and strengthens a range of other materials. Using asbestos in construction was not banned in the United Kingdom until 1999, which means that your home is likely to have some asbestos in it.

If there is asbestos in a home, this does not automatically mean there is a problem. In fact, materials containing asbestos are very good at what they do. Asbestos fibres can only affect your health if they become damaged, either accidentally or while they are being worked on during building work or DIY. If this happens, the asbestos could release fibres and these could harm your health if you breathed in a large amount.

Asbestos can be found in most homes where construction or works were carried out between 1920 and 1999 but especially those where works were carried out between 1930 and 1985.

There may be asbestos in the following areas of a home: boilers, flues, fascia boards, pipe joints, garage roofs, fire breaks, pipework, gas appliances, fire doors, textured coatings like artex, pipe boxing, insulation, water heaters, soffits, partition walls, bath panels, water tanks, storage heaters, fascias, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, door linings, bakelite fittings and a number of other materials.

Asbestos is not a danger to your health if it is in good condition and is not disturbed. For example, you can disturb asbestos by drilling or sawing into it. In our homes, most materials containing asbestos are in good condition and only contain low amounts from damaged asbestos. If you breathe in asbestos dust, tiny fibres can reach your lungs. This can cause diseases like asbestosis or cancer. However, for this to happen you must have breathed in a large number of fibres and it does not happen overnight. How much the fibres affect your health also depends on the type of asbestos.

How can I reduce the risks?

Don’t repair or remove any material that you think may contain asbestos.

Don’t cut, break, saw, drill, sand or disturb anything you think may contain asbestos.

If you don’t know what a material is made from, assume that it contains asbestos.

If you don’t know whether something contains asbestos and / or you do not know how to deal with it safely, call a professional specialist.  Some Chartered surveyors are certified to carry out such work.  To search for an independent Chartered Surveyor who will be able to assist you directly or be able to connect you to a local independent specialist to advise in this regard, go to the homepage of Property and click on the appropriate location link.