Testing for asbestos before working on your property
Because of the known health risks, testing for asbestos before working on your property is important. If your building was built or refurbished before 2000 it’s possible that some asbestos is present. As a homeowner, developer, or contractor you will want to make safe and environmentally sensitive choices for renovations, upgrades, or even simple changes to a property. If you are responsible for non-domestic premises, you have a duty to protect the people who use them under the Control of Asbestos Regulations.
Types of asbestos
There are several different types of asbestos and, although their use has been in decline since the 1970s, it is still found in many buildings. Blue asbestos or crocidolite was voluntarily banned in 1970 and blue and brown (amosite) asbestos were legally banned in 1985. White asbestos or chrysotile was banned in 1999.
Use of all types of asbestos and most second-hand asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were banned by 2000. Properties built before 2000 and older plant and equipment could still contain asbestos. Much of it will be hidden in the structure of your building and won’t be immediately obvious. You probably won’t see it mentioned in your building’s plans.
Who might be exposed to asbestos
Building contractors and maintenance workers in commercial properties are most likely to come into contact with ACMs but homeowners could also be exposed during do-it-yourself projects or refurbishment work.
When asbestos testing is needed
If you are having downlights installed in your kitchen, for example, and your contractor is unsure of the material in your ceiling an asbestos test will give them the information they need to obtain advice about how to proceed. For a commercial property an asbestos survey and testing will be important for your building’s management plan.
Before working on your property
Although asbestos degrades over time the risk is higher when it is disturbed during work on your property. If asbestos could be present an expert should carry out tests. You will then have the information you need to make sure conditions are safe while the work is carried out or you can have the asbestos safely removed.