Renfrewshire Council

Asbestos

Asbestos is a natural mineral made up of many small fibres.

There are three main types: blue, brown and white. All can be harmful if dust containing the fibres is breathed in.

Asbestos containing products are difficult to identify and this leads to confusion and undue worry. To be certain that a material contains asbestos it should be analysed by a laboratory.

Why was asbestos used?

Asbestos is resistant to heat and chemicals. This led to its use in a wide range of building materials and household appliances. Due to health concerns, asbestos is no longer used, and its use in new products/buildings is banned.

Where is it found?

Asbestos is unlikely to be found in buildings constructed after 1985.

It can, however, be found in houses and buildings constructed in the 1960s and 1970s where it was used for fire protection, heat and sound insulation.

Asbestos can be found in:

  • Roof and wall cladding
  • Pipe lagging
  • Roof slates, lining and flat roof tiles
  • Flue pipes/air bricks
  • Internal partitions
  • Some types of insulation
  • Plastic/vinyl floor tiles
  • Old ironing boards
  • Ropes surrounding oven doors

Asbestos was also used in some warm air heating systems, electric storage heaters (up till 1976), flameless catalytic gas heaters (up to 1988) and some early coal effect gas fires.

What do I do if I suspect I have asbestos in my home?

Asbestos may be present in buildings built or refurbished before 1985 - when blue and brown asbestos were banned. However, as long as asbestos is in good condition and is not going to be disturbed or damaged, there is no risk.

It only becomes dangerous if it is disturbed or damaged, as fibres can be released and breathed in.

  • Do not break or damage any material which may contain asbestos.
  • Take care when carrying out DIY - if you are unsure as to whether any material contains asbestos do not deal with it yourself but seek expert advice.
  • Samples of the suspected asbestos have to be taken and analysed before removal.
  • Asbestos which poses a risk should be removed by a specialist asbestos removal contractor.

Advice for businesses

It is the responsibility of the 'duty holder' of any non-domestic premises to ensure asbestos containing materials are identified in the property and are properly managed.

The 'duty holder' is the person responsible for maintaining and repairing all or part of the property, or who has control of the building. This may be the landlord, tenant or a managing agent for the property.

If you occupy a property but are not the duty holder you still have an obligation to cooperate with whoever manages the asbestos risk.

What happens next?

  • Identify where asbestos can be found in the premises, how much of it is present and what condition it is in.
  • Make a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing material (ACM).
  • Assess the risk from the material.
  • Prepare a management plan detailing how you are going to manage the risk from the ACM.
  • Put your management plan into action.
  • Provide information on location and condition of ACM to anyone who may be affected by them such as workers, builders or contractors.
  • Keep your management plan up to date.

If you are unsure if material contains asbestos, you must presume it does until you can show otherwise.

If samples need to be taken, this must be carried out by a competent person from an accredited company. Similarly these companies can also help if you need help with an asbestos survey or if asbestos is to be removed.

The duty holder may have enough knowledge to do this but if in doubt advice could be sought from an accredited company. 

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