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Where asbestos may be found in a building
Any building – industrial or residential – built before the year 2000 has the potential to contain asbestos within its building materials, so before you perform any sort of maintenance work it is essential to get the building checked out.
Even the smallest exposure can present unnecessary health risks to workers, builders, contractors or homeowners. However, with so many common building materials containing asbestos, it is important to recognise where asbestos is commonly found.
Types of asbestos
The use of asbestos in construction/refurbishment has been illegal since 1999, yet tonnes of this material was used prior to this date, so the likelihood that there is some in your home is incredibly high.
In fact, three types of asbestos can still be found in premises:
- Blue asbestos (crocidolite)
- Brown asbestos (amosite)
- White asbestos (chrysotile)
Each of these are dangerous carcinogens, with blue and brown asbestos proving to be the most hazardous of the three.
Now if they have not been disturbed or damaged, there is negligible risk to your health.
However, if your intention is to refurbish any part of your home/industrial property, then it is important to know where to find it and have it tested.
Where asbestos is found in the home
Every residential property is different - depending on the company who originally built it and what work has been done prior to you taking ownership – however, the following materials are more common within homes that you think.
- Asbestos Cement Water Tanks
- Pipe lagging
- Loose fill insulation
- Textured decorative coating, for instance artex within ceilings
- AIB (Asbestos Insulating Board) ceiling tiles, bath panels, partition walls, interior window panels and airing cupboards
- Toilet seat and cistern
- AIB behind fuse boxes, fireplaces or around the boiler e.g. sprayed insulation coating the boiler
- Vinyl floor tiles
Outside, you can expect to find it contained within:
- Gutters or asbestos cement downpipes
- Soffits – AIB or asbestos cement
- AIB exterior window panels
- Asbestos cement roof or panels e.g. flat or corrugated sheets
- Roofing felt
Where asbestos is found in industrial properties
For industrial properties, the list of potential building materials that contain asbestos is surprisingly not that different from where you can commonly find asbestos in the home.
Alongside the list you can see above, you can also find it in the following:
- Sprayed coatings (limpet) on ceilings, walls, beams and columns (commonly used for fire protection)
- Lagging thermal insulation on boilers and pipes
- AIB panels in fire doors
- Asbestos rope seals, gaskets and paper
- Textiles, for instance fire blankets
- Textured decorative coatings on walls and ceilings (artex)
- Asbestos cement flue (outside)
Knowing the risks
Depending on the type of asbestos used, different materials have different levels of risk, and it is important to know the difference.
High risk materials that you should be wary of include: asbestos pipe lagging, asbestos insulating boards (AIB), perforated AIB ceiling tiles and doors with AIB panels.
Whereas in the case of lower risk materials, you should be mindful of: asbestos cement wall cladding and asbestos–containing floor tiles.
Although all of the building materials we have listed above are the most common places to find asbestos; asbestos has been known to have been used in other materials.
That is why, if you are in any doubt, it is always safer to assume asbestos is present and get it tested.
At ICE Asbestos we are licensed to perform both Management surveys as well as Demolition & Refurbishment Surveys. We work all over the UK, and have offices in Birmingham, Darlington, London, Leeds, Nottingham and Norwich.