The Inside Edge
A strong, fire-resistant fibre, asbestos was basically the most popular insulation against fire, noise and heat before the 1980s. After this time though, research and studies found that any material containing this fibre was dangerous; potentially fatally so.
While we know this now, the hazards of asbestos continue to cause us problems. Last June, this article on the BBC by the British Lung Foundation warned us that deaths from asbestos-related diseases will only peak in 2016. If that wasn’t worrying enough, they already kill more people (around 4,500) each year than road accidents in the United Kingdom.
It is true that the use of asbestos was at commercial properties more than domestic ones, but home owners and landlords must be vigilant to the potential problem in their properties. With asbestos-related diseases developing over time (anything from 15 to 60 years), it really is a tricky substance to understand and deal with but if you don’t then it may lead to things like lung cancer or leave you fighting mesothelioma compensation claims from the work carried out in the past.
Only completely banned in 1999, back in 2011 it was believed that half of the homes in the United Kingdom housed some form of the fibre. Any concerns or misunderstandings can be cleared up by reviewing the 2006 Control of Asbestos Regulations where it tells you who has the duty, what that is and how to comply.
Dealing with asbestos during renovations
Whilst it is usually advised to hire professionals to do any renovations to the home, asbestos checks should always be the first port of call. To do this, you need to find someone trained to check for and remove asbestos and get them to do a full check on the property – particularly if it is an older build.
The fibres don’t pose any problems if they are in a material that hasn’t deteriorated but once disturbed through anything from sanding to drilling to handling you have a major problem. You are responsible for the health and safety of anyone who does any refurbish or remodeling work on your home.
Where is asbestos often found?
From kitchen tiles to guttering, asbestos was that popular and cheap that has the potential to be anywhere in the property. The most common spot is when it was used for insulation on the roof. But, it is also often found on pipe, wire and boiler insulation as well as in cement and building structures.
With your whole property having potential to house asbestos, it is always recommended to have a professional check before any renovation plans. While the levels in buildings might not be enough to be particularly harmful, if you’ve already started renovations and find a problem you will have already lost both time and money.
Asbestos is a Royal problem
If you are wondering what the chances are of asbestos being so widespread that you need to check every property with a tooth comb then one look at the Queen and you’ll realise it is a problem we all face. Accounts from the Royals last year showed that Buckingham Palace, and particularly the south wing, had cost everyone a lot of money due to asbestos.
Around one million pounds was spent last year to strip the material and it is thought that more will be spent on completely eradicating this problem for the next two decades. Aside from the Queen’s residence, the Houses of Parliament may close for the removal of asbestos and other refurbishment while the famous King’s College at Cambridge University was found to carry asbestos as well.