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A quick guide to asbestos in the home

A quick guide to asbestos in the home

A quick guide to asbestos in the home

A quick guide to asbestos in the home

The three main types of asbestos used in the UK are as follows:

Introduction This guide addresses concerns and questions about asbestos in homes. It explains what asbestos is, where it is found, why it might be a problem and how to deal with it.

• Chrysotile (known as white asbestos); • Amosite or Asbestos Grunerite (known as brown asbestos); and • Crocidolite (known as blue asbestos).

Even if there is asbestos in your home it is not usually a serious problem. Asbestos is not itself dangerous. Asbestos only becomes dangerous when it gets damaged over time or when it gets disturbed during works to your home.

Why was asbestos used? Asbestos fibres are strong and resistant to heat and chemicals. This led to widespread use in a range of building products and materials from 1930’s to mid 1980’s, but in particular in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Uses included thermal insulation and acoustic insulations, reinforcement in asbestos cement products and fire protection materials. The use of asbestos was banned from importation into the UK from November 1999; any property constructed after this date should not contain any asbestos.

What is asbestos?

Who is exposed to asbestos? Asbestos is a collective name given to a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that are contained within rock. The minerals appear as masses of strong flexible fibres that can be separated or woven and used in over 3,000 different building materials. 2

A quick guide to asbestos in the home

There are very low levels of fibres in the air everywhere because asbestos has been used widely. Exposure to this low level of fibres is unlikely to harm people’s health.


Don’t forget: Asbestos materials pose little risk unless they are disturbed or damaged.

A quick guide to asbestos in the home


A quick guide to asbestos in the home

Where is asbestos found in the home? Materials containing asbestos can be found in various locations in and around the home. The list of products or materials that may contain asbestos is huge. The use of asbestos in the UK peaked in the 1960’s and 1970’s therefore any properties built or refurbished during this time are most likely to contain some form of asbestos. The following diagram shows some of the common areas where asbestos may be found:

A quick guide to asbestos in the home

Key to Diagram 1.

Cold water storage tank


Pipework lagging / insulation


Loose insulation


Textured coating to ceiling


Soffits and fascia boards


Bakelite toilet cistern


Infill panels to windows

8. Electrical 9. Boiler 10. Vinyl 11.

fuse / switch boxes

and flue pipe

floor tiles and floor coverings

Gutters and drainpipes

12. Damp 13. Vinyl

course membrane

stair nosing strips

Asbestos can also occasionally be found in: • bath panels; • insulating boards to riser and door lining; • roof tiles; • ironing board stands; • fire blankets; • panels behind fires, heaters and boilers; • gaskets and ropes seals to gas appliances; • under cloaking to roof; and • bitumen products. Loft or cavity wall insulation does not contain asbestos. 4

A quick guide to asbestos in the home

A quick guide to asbestos in the home


A quick guide to asbestos in the home

Why is asbestos now a problem? When asbestos containing materials become damaged or deteriorate with age, they can release fibres into the air. If you inhale these tiny fibres they can become lodged in the tissue of the lungs or chest and your own body’s natural defence mechanisms cannot break them down. Breathing these fibres in can then cause cancer of the lungs, particularly if you are exposed to fibres over a number of years. Exposure to asbestos can cause diseases such as: • Asbestosis – an irreversible scarring of the lungs; • Lung Cancer – particularly if you smoke; and • Mesothelioma – cancer of the lung or abdominal cavity. All of these diseases have no known cure.

How can I identify asbestos? This is the hard part. You cannot tell whether or not a product contains asbestos just by looking at it. Often asbestos is masked by other materials which disguises its true colour. Usually, it is older products that contain asbestos. To confirm if a product contains asbestos a sample needs to be taken by a surveyor and analysed at UKAS accredited laboratory. Remember, products that contain asbestos can look identical to those that don’t. If in doubt, please call Stockport Homes’ Asbestos Team on 0161 474 4407.


A quick guide to asbestos in the home

A quick guide to asbestos in the home

What should I do if I suspect asbestos? Asbestos left in good condition and untouched does not cause any problems, as it isn’t the material that causes the problem, it’s the fibres generated from breaking or the breakdown of the material. If you have damaged or deteriorating asbestos materials in your home, please seek advice from Stockport Homes’ Asbestos Team.

Is there anything I should do to protect me and my family from asbestos? To protect your own, your family’s or your visitors’ health, please: • be sure that the materials you are working on or disturbing in and around your home do not contain asbestos; and • avoid having to scrape, sand, drill, knock holes in or take apart any materials that contain (or you think may contain) asbestos. Under no circumstances should you deal with the asbestos yourself. If you have any doubts, please get advice from Stockport Homes. If you think you may have products that contain asbestos in your home, please get advice from Stockport Homes before you take any action.

A quick guide to asbestos in the home


A quick guide to asbestos in the home

A quick guide to asbestos in the home

How is Stockport Homes managing asbestos in properties?

Asbestos do’s and don’ts Do keep activities to an absolute minimum in areas where damaged material may contain asbestos.

Stockport Homes has developed an Asbestos Policy and Procedure to effectively manage asbestos in our properties. We maintain an asbestos register database showing all survey results, we update it when appropriate.

Do take every precaution to avoid the risk of damaging the asbestos material. Do have removal and repair of asbestos-containing materials done by people trained and qualified in handling asbestos. We suggest that qualified and established companies also carry out the taking of samples for analysis and asbestos surveys. (Relevant only to Right-toBuy purchasers).

What about decorating or DIY to your home? You may have asbestos materials in your home so take extra care when doing DIY. Do not try to work on any form of asbestos or material that you think may contain asbestos. If you are in doubt, please get advice from Stockport Homes. Do not drill, cut or disturb asbestos. Do not scrape or sand asbestos materials before painting and decorating. You may need to cover over existing decorations rather than try to remove them.


Stockport Homes insists that all asbestos must only be removed, sealed or repaired by contractors licensed to work with asbestos. These licensed contractors have to follow strict regulations to ensure asbestos is safely handled.


Do damp down damaged asbestos until it can be removed.

X 8

A quick guide to asbestos in the home

Don’t dust, sweep or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos. Don’t saw, sand, scrape or drill holes in asbestos materials. Don’t trample mess from materials that contain asbestos through the house. It will result in other furnishings being contaminated and potentially more people being put at risk. Don’t put asbestos waste in your wheelie bin – contact Stockport Homes for advice on the correct disposal procedure. A quick guide to asbestos in the home


A quick guide to asbestos in the home

Who do I need to contact at Stockport Homes if I am concerned about asbestos?

Council’s Environmental Services Department on 0161 217 6111 or email They will arrange to have the material inspected and will take the appropriate action.

The Assets and Development Team have a dedicated Asbestos Team where customers can report any concerns about asbestos. You can call the Asbestos Team on 0161 474 4407 or email

Do not attempt to examine fly-tipped rubbish yourself as it may contain dangerous chemicals and syringes. Please pass this information to the Council in order that they can pursue the culprits.

If asbestos is found to be present within your property, we will take one of the following three actions depending on the level of risk: • remove the asbestos containing product(s); • encapsulate, seal or enclose the product, record and check from time-to-time that it is still safe; or • record where the product is and check from time-totime that it is still safe. Please keep a copy of this guide for future reference. If you personally carry out or enable and permit others to carry out work without our written approval, you will be totally liable for any costs of dealing with any asbestos incidents as well as the cost of reinstatement.

Fly-Tipped asbestos If you suspect you have seen fly-tipped asbestos anywhere in the Borough, please contact Stockport


A quick guide to asbestos in the home

A quick guide to asbestos in the home

Further information Useful websites Stockport Homes - cfm?Type=ASBESTOS HSE - Asbestos Information Centre - Useful contact numbers Stockport Homes’ Asbestos Team Tel: 0161 474 4407 Email: Stockport Council’s Environmental Services Department Tel: 0161 217 6111 Email: A quick guide to asbestos in the home


A quick guide to asbestos in the home

Accessing our services This booklet provides you with a quick guide to asbestos in the home. If you would like a copy in large print, Braille, on audio tape or CD, please contact the Social Inclusion Team on 0161 474 2860 or email:

Ref: 769/July 2011


A quick guide to asbestos in the home

Asbestos leaflet  

A quick guide to asbestos in the home

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