Asbestos present in almost 70000 homes in Northern Ireland

Asbestos present in almost 70000 homes in Northern Ireland

Following a Freedom of Information request by the online blog ‘Beyond the Pillars’, it has been revealed that Asbestos present in almost 70000 homes in Northern Ireland is a cause of concern for the public.

Asbestos is a deadly material and was used on a large scale right up until the 1980’s in the construction of buildings.

It was widely available, cheap to use and as well as being very strong it is also very fire resistant.

Although asbestos was banned back in the year 2000, because it was used so extensively, it can still be found in lots of buildings to include residential properties, hospitals, schools and commercial buildings.

Asbestos is completely harmless if left undisturbed.  It only becomes dangerous when the material is disturbed as a result of any building/renovation works to a property.

The deadly fibers are released into the air and cause harm when inhaled into the lungs.

It can take many years for a person to display any symptoms and be diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestosis.

But once diagnosed with an asbestos related disease, there is no cure and life expectancy is very short.

The members of ‘Beyond the Pillars’ discovered that a total 69,747 Housing Executive properties across Northern Ireland contained asbestos, which is over 70% of the homes owned by the housing association.

Asbestos is a problem for housing associations

A spokesman from the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK, Graham Dring, said that unfortunately, asbestos was a common problem for housing associations.

He said, “We do know there are issues with asbestos in a lot of local authority housing.  It was widely used, particularly in post-war housing, continuing into the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties.

The long-term policy has got to be getting asbestos out of properties.”

He went on to say, “Things like fires or accidental damage in any building containing asbestos carry the risk of exposure to tenants and their families.  Therefore it is best to eradicate asbestos from the properties, although we recognise this cannot happen overnight.”

1,397 properties have been treated for asbestos since 2011 costing a total of £297,863, with the majority of the properties being located in the Coleraine area.

175 further properties in the south of Belfast were also treated at an additional cost of £33,420.

Housing Executive has plan of action

A  spokesperson said, “The Housing Executive has a programme in place to manage asbestos in all of its properties. As part of that, we inspect all of our properties.  We advise all of our tenants of the process and what happens if asbestos is found and if any action is required. This also includes advice around house sales and home improvements.”

“We would stress that the asbestos in the majority of our properties is low-risk, i.e. it is present in floor or roof tiles, soffits etc. Asbestos only poses a risk if it is disturbed.”

“Our tenants are advised that they should not be making changes to their properties without approval from the Housing Executive, at which stage we will check if asbestos survey details are available. If not, we will acquire a survey relevant to the works.”

“All of our surveys are risk-assessed and asbestos is only removed when it is deemed likely to cause a risk to the occupants or any other visitor.”

 

Source of article:-  http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/lethal-asbestos-is-present-in-70000-housing-executive-homes-in-northern-ireland-34713678.html by Adrian Rutherford

 

Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting http://www.armco.org.uk/.  

Alternatively call 0161 761 4424 or visit http://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/ for enquiries or to book a training course.

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Published Sep 19, 2016
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