The term “asbestos” is one that no homebuyer wants to hear. Another is subservience, but that’s a different issue. We deal with asbestos-related inquiries on a regular basis at Crucial Environmental, so we thought we’d share our expertise. So, what is asbestos, where can it be found in a structure, and why is it a problem?
What is asbestos and where may it be found?
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was formerly widely employed as a construction material. In truth, chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite are a set of six naturally occurring minerals that have been mined for almost 4,000 years. However, it was not until the late 1800s that their valuable characteristics were recognised. Asbestos is a low-cost material that is fire, heat, chemical, and electrically resistant, as well as a great insulator.
It’s particularly prevalent in residential buildings, where it’s blended with other materials like cement sheeting, corrugated roofing, and wall coatings like Artex. Asbestos was commonly employed in the insulation of gas pipelines, water cisterns, pipe lagging, behind fuse boxes and around boilers, as well as in floor and ceiling tiles.
Blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos were prohibited in the UK building sector in 1985, while white asbestos (chrysotile) was not completely prohibited until 1999. While homes built this century in the UK are unlikely to contain asbestos, buildings built before 1999 should be regarded with caution. White asbestos, for example, is found in Artex. It was a common floor and ceiling treatment in the 1950s and 1960s, and it was still in use in the mid 1980s.
What are the risks of asbestos exposure to one’s health?
Asbestos, unfortunately, has a fatal side effect in humans. When breathed, the fibres are a recognised carcinogen, causing substantial long-term lung damage such malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer, as well as COPD, plural thickening, and effusion. Oesophageal, gallbladder, kidney, and throat cancers are among the several malignancies linked to asbestos exposure.
Breathing in asbestos fibres is the most typical route for them to enter the body. In reality, asbestos-containing materials (ACM) are normally not considered hazardous unless they release dust or fibres into the air, which can then be breathed. ACMs can be broken down by damage and degradation, making fibre release more likely.
What should you do if asbestos is discovered on your property?
According to the British Lung Foundation, finding asbestos in the house isn’t uncommon, and in most situations, there’s nothing to be concerned about. There is no immediate danger to your health as long as it has been properly kept, is not decomposing, and has not been disturbed.
Most residential property surveys will identify common asbestos-containing construction elements and recommend additional inquiry. Even a comprehensive RICS Building Survey is unlikely to provide any information on the state of any ACMs in the property, much alone the expenses of removing them.
Don’t be alarmed if ACMs were discovered during your house inspection. The best course of action is to remain calm and seek more professional assistance. Under no circumstances should you attempt to remove asbestos yourself. It must be appropriately disposed of by a skilled, accredited, and licenced operator.
Home Buyer Asbestos Surveys are carried out by Asbestos Removal Glasgow to give expert analysis and insight, including thorough testing in UKAS recognised laboratories and detailed reports. Asbestos surveys may be difficult to interpret for the inexperienced eye, which is why we created this service specifically for home purchasers, providing clear and unbiased information in plain English. Please contact us for expert advice on asbestos in your property and to discuss your needs for an asbestos survey.
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