Asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999 and since then has not been used within any form of construction. The problem is, that prior to that date in the UK asbestos was used as a material extensively across many different industries, and especially within construction where it was used to line pipes and to provide insulation amongst many other uses. Because it was used so extensively in the past there is a very large percentage of buildings and structures in the country where it is still present.
If you discover asbestos in a building where you live, work, or are looking into refurbishing, or if you are worried that asbestos might be present, it is important that you understand exactly how to act immediately.
Asbestos is completely fine if it is left undisturbed, causing minimal damage to anything around it. But, the problem lies when asbestos is discovered in a building where work is being carried out and the asbestos or asbestos materials are disturbed. All it takes is for one disturbance to release asbestos fibres into the air and it can cause real long-term health complications to any person that breaths in asbestos fibres. It could just be one breath and one fibre, and it could cause the illness that will end your life.
This might sound dramatic but the symptoms for asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related illnesses to not show for many decades. By the time they do present symptoms it is too late to act and they are critical illnesses. This is why you see many older people who have worked within construction and other heavy industries where asbestos was present and in the open, become ill and die in recent years and decades. It remains a big killer in the UK, so what should you do if you suspect there is asbestos in your building.
The first thing to do is to ceases any work from carrying on, if you have already started work on a refurbishment project for instance. The only people who can legally and safely remove asbestos are specialist licensed asbestos survey and management companies, so these should be your first port of call.
An asbestos survey company will come in to the property and advise on the locations of all asbestos and asbestos materials, as well as provide analysis and advice on what they consider the correct course of action moving forward. In the vast majority of cases the same company will enter the property to remove asbestos as part of the service. Until this process has been completed no person should be in the presence of the asbestos that has been found.
There are licensed asbestos survey and management companies in your area, so always conduct your research to find the right one for your specific needs. It is important that you fully understand the dangers of asbestos and do not take any risks when finding it in a building that you are working on, work in, or live in.