Asbestos is the commercial name given to a group of naturally occurring mineral rocks which when broken open are found to contain mineral fibres, rather than mineral crystals.
These fibres are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and don't conduct electricity. Large amounts of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used for a wide range of construction purposes in new and refurbished buildings until 1999 when all use of asbestos was banned.
This extensive use means that there are still many buildings which contain asbestos. Where asbestos materials are in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed they don't present a risk. However, where the materials are in poor condition or are disturbed or damaged, asbestos fibres are released into the air, which, if breathed in, can cause serious lung diseases, including cancers.
Any building built pre 2000 could contain asbestos.
Where is asbestos usually found in the home?
This list is not exhaustive:
- exterior of building: roof sheets and tiles, fascia boards, exterior cladding, guttering and drain pipes
- boiler: some interior working of boilers, boilers flue pipes and storage radiators
- interior surfaces: textured wall and ceiling coatings eg Artex, duct panels (access to pipe work), panel behind radiators / heaters, floor tiles, underside of stairs and cupboard door facing. Infill panels (above below or adjacent to doorways or windows)
- other items: bath panels, fireplace panels, water tank, pipe lagging, garages, outhouses and shed roofs
Asbestos is dangerous and should not be disturbed.
Am I at risk?
Current scientific advise tells us that if asbestos containing materials are in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed, then the risk presented is minimal.
DIY activities such as sanding or drilling may disturb and possibly damage products containing asbestos and release fibres into the air, which could put you and others at risk.
Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos related diseases, which can affect the lungs.
Concerned about asbestos in your home?
If you're concerned about asbestos in your home there are 2 avenues which we offer, dependant on whether you are a leaseholder / private rental tenant or a Hackney housing resident.
Leaseholders / freeholders
Under the terms of your lease you're responsible for all fixtures and fittings within your home. The Council remains responsible for maintaining the structure of the building. If you're worried about asbestos in your leasehold home you should ask a licensed asbestos company to carry out a survey.
If your home is rented and you're concerned about asbestos you should contact your landlord in the first instance.
The pollution control team provide a general advisory service and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8356 4586.
- if you have asbestos containing materials removed, sealed or protected within your premises please pass on this information to us and to future owners
- if you sublet your home, it is your responsibility to ensure that your tenants comply with the terms of your lease with the Council. Failure to do so may result in action against you
- if you have small amounts of asbestos containing materials to dispose of, visit the hazardous waste collection service to request a collection, or call 020 7332 3433
Hackney housing tenants
Tenants whose homes contain known or presumed asbestos will be told:
- where it is or is likely to be
- how and why the Council is managing the material and when planned work will take place
- what they are expected to do, and not to do, to help control any risks
Asbestos survey information about their property will be provided to Council tenants if requested in writing.
The vast majority of Council homes contain some form of asbestos. In many cases, some of the asbestos has been removed over time due to planned or reactive maintenance work.
Hackney housing tenants should contact the Hackney housing asbestos team with any asbestos related issue on: 020 8356 8887.
Asbestos advice for businesses
The above is aimed at house holders. The health and safety executive (HSE) has produced a number of guidelines which are more appropriate for businesses.