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58316: 10/2011

Questions on Asbestos

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This leaflet addresses the main questions and concerns about asbestos in homes. It explains what it is, where it is found, why it might be a problem and how we deal with it.

What is asbestos? Asbestos is a group of fibrous minerals found naturally in many parts of the world.

Why may asbestos be a problem? When asbestos materials age or become damaged they can release tiny fibres into the air. These can be breathed deep into the lungs where they may stay for a long time, causing possible damage. When very high levels of these fibres are breathed in, there is a risk of lung disease.

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Is everyone exposed to asbestos? There are very low levels of fibres in the air which occur everywhere because asbestos has been used widely and is a naturally occurring substance. Everyone is breathing these in all the time, but exposure to this low level of fibres is unlikely to harm your health. The level of fibres may be higher in buildings containing asbestos materials, especially where the materials are damaged. It is very unlikely that the levels of asbestos fibres found in buildings will be harmful.

Where is asbestos found? Building materials containing asbestos were widely used from 1930 to around 1980, particularly from the 1960s onwards. So, houses and flats built or refurbished at this time may contain asbestos materials. Asbestos has also been used in some heat-resistant household products, such as oven gloves and ironing boards. The use of asbestos in these products decreased greatly around the mid 1980s, and since 1993 the use of asbestos in most products has been banned. It is not always easy to tell where a product contains asbestos as modern asbestos-free materials often look similar – remember it is usually older products that contain asbestos.

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What types of asbestos materials may be found in homes? • Asbestos-cement products. Asbestos-cement is the most widely used asbestos material containing low levels of asbestos fibres. It is found in many types of building as profiled sheets for roofing and wall cladding, in flat sheets and partition boards for lining to walls and ceilings, in bath panels, soffit boards, fire surrounds, flue pipes, cold water tanks and as roofing tiles and slates. • Insulation board. Insulating board has been used for fire protection, heat and surround insulation. • Lagging. Asbestos lagging has been used for thermal insulation of pipes and boilers. Asbestos lagging is very rarely found in homes. • Other building materials and products. Very low levels of asbestos has been used in a variety of other building materials, for example, in decorative coatings such as textured paints and plasters, plastic and vinyl floor tiles, cushion flooring, roofing felts, tapes, ropes and felts. These are still widely in place but supply and application has been prohibited since 1988. WC cisterns and fire blankets can also contain asbestos.

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• Heating appliances and domestic equipment. Asbestos was used in some warm air heating systems, electronic storage heaters (up to 1976) and in flameless catalytic gas heaters (up to 1988) and some early ‘coat effect’ gas fires. It has also been used in domestic equipment, such as oven gloves and ironing boards, seals on cooker doors and fire blankets. Asbestos has also been used in vehicle brake linings and pads.

What should I do if I suspect there is asbestos in my home? Asbestos materials in good condition that cannot readily be damaged are usually best left where they are because removal can lead to higher levels of fibres in the air for some time. We check the condition of asbestos materials when we carry out condition surveys. We also carry out specific invasive asbestos surveys on each property archetype when they become void, any asbestos found will be removed. If for any reason we leave asbestos in a property you will be notified of what it is and where it is.

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Heating Your heating appliance, which may contain asbestos, is serviced and maintained by the Housing Association. If asbestos was found in an unsafe condition, it would have been taken out and replaced with an alternative unit. The Housing Association will be able to help identify if you have asbestos products in your home, or if homes in your area have been surveyed.

What should I do about decorating and DIY? If you think or you have been notified that you have asbestos materials in your home, do not drill, cut or disturb them. Do not scrape or sand asbestos materials before painting and decorating.

Who should I seek advice from? In the first instance the Housing Association can advise you. The Housing Association maintains an Asbestos Register, which is being updated and revised as part of an ongoing inspection process.

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Main Points • Asbestos materials in good condition should be left alone • If you think you may have asbestos-containing products in your home, CONTACT US. • Do not put asbestos waste in the dustbin – seek advice (asbestos waste must be disposed of in specialised tips).

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Equal Opportunities statement We recognise the damage that disadvantage and discrimination can cause. We are committed to equal opportunities and will take positive steps to ensure that you will not be treated less favourably than anyone else in your dealings with us because of race, religion, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, class or age. Access for all... If you require this document in another format, for example Braille, large type, audio tape or another language please contact us.

South Shropshire Housing Association The Gateway, The Auction Yard, Craven Arms, Shropshire SY7 9BW tel: 0300 303 1190 email: info@sshropsha.co.uk www.shropshirehousing.org.uk

Shropshire Housing Group consists of the following organisations

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58316: 10/2011

Shropshire Housing Group consists of the following organisations

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58316: 10/2011

Asbestos

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Equal Opportunities statement We recognise the damage that disadvantage and discrimination can cause. We are committed to equal opportunities and will take positive steps to ensure that you will not be treated less favourably than anyone else in your dealings with us because of race, religion, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, class or age. Access for all... If you require this document in another format, for example Braille, large type, audio tape or another language please contact us.

Meres and Mosses Housing Association Talbot House, High Street, Wem SY4 5AA tel: 0300 303 1190 email: enquiries@mmha.org.uk www.shropshirehousing.org.uk

Shropshire Housing Group consists of the following organisations

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58316: 10/2011

Shropshire Housing Group consists of the following organisations

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Asbestos leaflet  

Information on asbestos

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