Asbestos-containing materials (often referred to as ACM's), can be found in many places. Asbestos is present in thousands of buildings in the UK. In offices, hospitals, homes and buildings of all types.
We have discussed how asbestos is dangerous in a previous blog post. Asbestos fibres are deadly and responsible for around 5000 deaths each year in the UK.
If something is bad, generally it is something you should stay away from. So, is asbestos a material you should be looking for? Why is it important to know where asbestos-containing materials might be found?
With asbestos, it's a case of better the devil you know. If you know where asbestos is, you can deal with it. You can protect yourself.
Asbestos is not harmful in situ if it remains undamaged and undisturbed. Only when it is damaged can the harmful fibres be released and breathed in, causing potentially fatal lung disease.
So knowing where asbestos materials are in your building is important, to avoid accidental disturbance and to ensure they remain in a good condition or are removed.
Asbestos was used extensively in building materials in the past. At its peak use in the 1950s - 70s, it was used in thousands of building products. Although asbestos was fully banned in 1999, any building built or refurbished before the ban is likely to contain asbestos.
If you are responsible for premises such as a shop, offices, industrial unit, flats or other premises, you have a legal duty to manage asbestos, and there must locate and keep a record of asbestos-containing materials within your building.
Where can you find asbestos? Asbestos can be used in a wide variety of places, here are 40 places you can find asbestos:
Asbestos fibres are strong. Asbestos was used in cement products to add strength and reinforce thin asbestos sheets.
Asbestos has excellent insulation properties and produced strong long-lasting roofing products.
The insulation properties of asbestos can be used to keep heat in. It can also be used to provide fire and sound insulation. Often used as pipe lagging and loose fill insulation.
Asbestos insulating board was often used internally for fire, heat and sound protection.
It was also a cheap material. So it was added to a wide variety of products and advertised as strong and long-lasting.
Asbestos fibres helped add texture and strength to products like paints, coatings, and artex.
These are just some of the many places you can find asbestos containing materials. If asbestos is present, it needs to be managed. But you can't tell if a material contains asbestos just from looking at it. You need the right type of asbestos survey to know for sure.
Always check the asbestos survey before carrying out any construction or maintenance work. Disturbing asbestos must be done under strict controls to prevent exposure. Asbestos-containing materials should only be removed or disturbed by trained contractors (who often need to be licensed).
Need an asbestos management plan for your premises? Why not download our asbestos management plan template to get you started.