There is a possibility of finding asbestos in homes that were built or refurbished before the year 2000. The use of asbestos in the UK started to decline in the 1980’s due to bans that were imposed by the government. These bans were based on evidence that exposure to asbestos could cause fatal illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
Various types of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials were banned at different times in the UK:
- The use of blue asbestos (crocidolite) stopped almost completely in the early part of the 1970’s
- The use of asbestos sprayed coatings gradually decreased from 1970 but was subject to a legal ban in 1985
- The use of asbestos insulation board (AIB) and asbestos pipe insulation decreased sharply in 1980 and stopped completely in 1985
- The use of asbestos paints and varnishes stopped in 1988
- The use of asbestos-containing decorative coatings such as Artex was legally banned in 1992
- The use of asbestos cement was prohibited in 1999
The above dates are only used as a guideline
Asbestos in homes
The use of asbestos started to boom in the 1970’s during the height of the industrial revolution. The railroad industry, shipyards and factories began to make use of asbestos mainly in building materials. Asbestos was particularly popular due to its excellent strength and it’s resistance to heat and electricity.
It wasn’t just commercial buildings that made use of asbestos. House builders started to use the material in items such as cement garage roof sheets, soffits, boiler and pipe insulation and much more.
Below is a graphic on potential locations that asbestos could be located inside your home.
(image courtesy of HSE)
- A. Asbestos cement water tank
- B. Pipe insulation
- C. Loose fill asbestos insulation
- D. Textured decorative coatings (Artex)
- E. AIB (Asbestos Insulation Board) ceiling tiles
- F. AIB bath panel
- G. Toilet seat & cistern
- H. AIB behind the fuse box
- I. Sprayed coating insulation on the boiler
- J. AIB partition wall
- K. AIB window panel
- L. AIB around the boiler
- M. Vinyl floor tiles
- N. AIB behind the fireplace
- O. Asbestos cement gutters & downspouts
- P. AIB & asbestos cement soffits
- Q. AIB exterior window panel
- R. Asbestos cement roof
- S. Asbestos cement panels
- T. Roofing felt
Depending on when the asbestos cement was produced, it could have contained different types of asbestos. Brown asbestos (amosite) was used between 1945 – 1980. Blue asbestos (crocidolite) was used between 1950-1969 and white asbestos (chrysotile) was used up to the year 2000.
Asbestos cement is normally less than 15% overall asbestos fibre content. However, flat cement boards and sheets can contain around 25% asbestos. Asbestos cement is classed as medium risk and is usually unlicensed removal works.
Some asbestos cement products include slates, water tanks, window sills, facias, soffits, downpipes and many more.
Asbestos insulation board (AIB)
Asbestos insulation board is mainly made up of brown asbestos (amosite), or a combination of brown and white asbestos (chrysotile) and is usually 15-40% asbestos fibre content. AIB can be found in numerous locations such as wall panels, ceiling tiles, bath panels, cladding, soffits and much more.
This material is high risk and was banned in 1985. AIB is normally a licensed material that should only be removed by a licensed asbestos removal contractor.
Thermal insulation (lagging)
Asbestos lagging is used as thermal insulation on pipes and boilers. Asbestos thermal insulation could contain any of the three main asbestos types chrysotile, amosite or crocidolite. This material can be 5-90% asbestos fibre content and is high risk.
Asbestos thermal insulation should only be removed by a licensed asbestos removal contractor.
Loose asbestos insulation
This type of asbestos can be found in walls, floor voids and also lofts. Loose asbestos insulation is often 100% asbestos fibres. This type of insulation can also be found in small service ducts around electrical cabling and pipe works.
Loose asbestos insulation is very high risk and should always be removed by a licensed asbestos removal contractor.
Textured decorative coatings
Textured coatings, also know as Artex, could contain asbestos. The usual asbestos content in these types of coatings is 1-5%. The coatings usually contain white asbestos (chrysotile) and were used until the mid 1990’s.
The removal of asbestos textured coating is none licensed and NNLW depending on how the material will be degraded during removal.
This type of material can be contained in items such as toilet cisterns. Thermoplastics could contain up to 20% white asbestos (chrysotile).
Asbestos thermoplastic can also be found in vinyl floor tiles and stair nosings. Although these are more common in commercial properties such as schools and council buildings, there is a chance that they could be present in a home.
These materials are none licensed.
Bituminous products, mastics & adhesive
Bituminous and mastic asbestos products are items like roofing felts, gutter linings and flashings and acoustic sink pads. These materials can contain up to 8% white asbestos (chrysotile) and were used until 1982. Asbestos adhesives can contain up to 2% white asbestos and were used until 1992.
These materials are low risk and none licensed.
Is asbestos present in your home?
If you suspect that asbestos is present in your property then it would be beneficial to obtain an asbestos survey from a professional company like Local Asbestos Services. Get in touch with us and we can help address any queries that you may have.