Asbestos can be found in residential homes. If you are untrained, doing DIY when asbestos is present can be dangerous.
Asbestos is not only a problem for industrial units, any residential building constructed prior to the year 2000 is likely to contain asbestos.
If this applies to you, then even the smallest amount of DIY or rennovations could cause serious implications to your health. If asbestos is present in your home and you disturb it whilst making renovations or doing DIY, the fibres could break off and become airbourne. If inhaled, asbestos can be deadly and lead to mesotheliom or lung cancer. As long as it is in good condition and remains undisturbed it should not pose a health threat.
Asbestos can be hidden in many places around the home. It can be found in a number of forms;
Asbestos cement is cement mixed with asbestos it is hard and grey and can be found mostly on roofs and in gutters.
Loose fill insulation is the most dangerous form of asbestos. It can be found in loft insulation, and walls and is asbestos in its purest form, it can easily release firbers that can be breathed in. Any work with this kind of asbestos will need to be don’t by a HSE licensed contractor.
Textured decrotive coating is found in walls and ceielings and is known as Artex. Some work with this type of asbestos is completely safe ie. Painting, however larger scale removals will cause the break up of the asbestos and will need a licenced contractor.
Asbestos Insulating board (AIB) is used in partition walls, celeing tiles , bath panels, interior window panels, fire proofing and behind boilers and fire places.
Vinyl floor tiles are usually hidden under carpets and are difficult to distinguish between regular tiles. You will need to look for trade names to find out if they contgain asbestos, otherwise if you know it was there before the year 2000 you should assume that it contains asbestos.
It is difficult to tell if you have been exposed to asbestos, you cannot see or smell it once its fibres have gone into the air and effects of exposure take years to show up. It is usually tradespeople that are at risk of asbestos ie. Plumbers, painters and decorators and electricians, but you are still likely to be at risk if;
You are doing any work on a property known to contain asbestos or built before 2000
If you are unaware how to recognise and work safely with asbestos or have not had appropriate training
If you have not had asbestos an risk assesment or survey carried out on the house.
You need to be extreamly careful when doing any DIY on your property if you know it to contain asbestos. Work with asbestos is dangerous and needs to be carried out by appropriately trained workers. If the Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) has been very badly damaged and poses a significant health and safety threat a risk assesment will have to take place and work may need to be carried out by a licensed contractor.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently launched a Beware Asbestos campign to help people identify asbestos and what to do if you come into contact with it, however the safest way to deal with Asbestos is to undertake a refurbishment or demolition survey if you wish to undergo any refurbishement.
At Armco we offer comprehensive asbestos awareness, working with non-licensed asbestos, face fit testing and online training at out office in Bury, Manchester or at a location convenient to you. We also have over 15 years surveying experience, specialising in Asbestos management and refurbishment or demolition surveys in and around Manchester and nationwide. Visit out Training http://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/ and surveying http://www.armco.org.uk/about/ websites.