Safe Asbestos removal is a subject that concerns a lot of people even though asbestos when left alone doesn’t really cause a lot of problems. This is not to say of course that due care should not be taken to prevent asbestos fibres being released into the air, as this can cause serious health issues.
Asbestos is a mineral that occurs naturally and historically has been a key ingredient in many construction materials. The reason for this is that asbestos lends fire resistant properties to materials and also makes them a lot more rigid.. Believe it or not asbestos has been used in the past in home products such as ironing boards and even oven gloves!
From the 1950s right through to the 1980s, asbestos was used as a key construction material.
At home you might locate asbestos in the following typical areas:
- rain water fall pipes, eaves and gutters
- fire blankets
- shed roofs and garages
- linings for doors, ceilings and walls
- storage heaters (usually within the insulation panels)
- bath panels
- flues for central heating
- loose asbestos packing between party walls and floors
- floor tiles
Generally speaking, people are only exposed to very low or minimal levels of asbestos which is present in the atmosphere. Quite often there are no seeming health effects. However it is potentially extremely hazardous if asbestos dust or fibres are inhaled in high amounts over a period of time. This can cause serious lung diseases and cancer also. The symptoms of these diseases often do not appear for between 20 -30 years after exposure to asbestos.
Taking the following steps will be beneficial if you are planning asbestos removal or the non-licensable asbestos:
- dust masks. Make sure you obtain and wear an asbestos certified mask
- overalls. Disposable overalls are ideal for asbestos removal
- do not allow others in the vicinity or the asbestos removal area
- using water and a little washing up liquid to wet the asbestos prior to removal will help minimise the release of asbestos fibres into the air. Always make sure that you are not working with water too close to any electrical cables of course
- do not break up large sheets of asbestos. Rather try to remove and dispose of them without breaking
Bag up, label and seal any smaller pieces into plastic bags
- Any remaining dust should be cleaned up with a damp cloth. The cloth should then be sealed in a plastic bag whilst still a little damp, and the bag labelled
- Never use a domestic vacuum cleaner. It is possible that asbestos fibres can pass through the filter and be released into the air
You may have been involved in asbestos removal at home yourself. If so you should have disposed of your asbestos waste separately to the way in which you dispose of your household waste. You should arrange to have it collected by a hazardous waste carrier or, for asbestos removal contact an asbestos consultant.