Where To Find Asbestos In The Home
Posted on Monday 22nd September 2014 by Graham
Asbestos is strong and hardwearing, fire-resistant, and a good thermal insulator - is inexpensive and plentiful. Little wonder then this naturally occurring mineral found a multitude of uses around the home and in the workplace during the golden years of growth and construction that followed the industrial revolution.
The Victorian era was one of expansion, saw the beginning of long overdue slum clearance, gave birth to a housing construction boom…and as a consequence, asbestos found its way into many hundreds of thousands of homes. Although the use of asbestos is now largely banned in home construction today, these harmful materials do still remain in certain older properties - lying undisturbed for years perhaps, but still posing a real risk to health if not managed correctly.
Where exactly in the home might one expect to find asbestos is a question often asked by concerned owners of period properties? Asbestos, if present at all, will generally be located out of sight, and you may not be even aware of its presence. For this reason, listed below are the main uses and places you might expect to find asbestos in the home.
Asbestos insulation in walls and ceilings
Evidence has shown asbestos was occasionally used in both loose blown in and batt cavity thermal insulation in many homes built between 1930 and 1950. Asbestos was used to protect interior wall spaces from outside freezing temperatures. Areas for these types of insulation may include outside walls and floor or roof spaces between structural joists and rafters, including attics and loft spaces.
Asbestos used in such insulation presents a hazard only when disturbed: perhaps when carrying out repair work in an adjoining area. If you are planning any significant repairs, and suspect you may have asbestos, or would like checks carried out to confirm the absence of asbestos, or want to remove asbestos, then you should consult a certified and qualified company to perform these tasks. Asbestos is a dangerous material and should be handled in strict accordance with the appropriate regulations.
The trend for textured wall coverings, such as Artex, continued into the sixties and seventies: but tests have long since proved many of these coverings contained asbestos materials. When trends changed, removal of these wall coverings was a particular hazard due to the preferred and often only, method of removal by sanding and creation of airborne - breathable - fibres.
Asbestos in older floor coverings
Asbestos was present in much of pre and post war rolled vinyl flooring, vinyl tiles, and even the adhesive used in fixing the flooring.
Asbestos is a particularly hardwearing material - its fibres were combined with the other, basic materials, giving the floor covering improved strength and durability. However, continuous abrading, cutting, and other forms of mechanical damage could easily release deadly asbestos fibres into the environment, particles that gain access to the human respiratory system. Inhalation of asbestos over a period of time often results in serious medical conditions after many years of dormancy: conditions that often prove incurable.
Flooring and adhesives containing asbestos materials are not produced today. Where flooring is suspect do not handle, seek professional advice for confirmation, and dispose of correctly.
Asbestos used in boilers, furnace heaters and pipe work.
Oil, coal, or wood furnaces installed between 1930 and 1972 will almost certainly contain asbestos material insulation and refractory cement (unless previously identified and removed). If you maintain and check appliances regularly you will have been advised and made aware of any asbestos containing materials. Confirmation of the presence of asbestos materials is carried out through sampling and analysis.
In this age of power and energy, reducing waste was helped greatly by insulating steam and hot water pipes with asbestos-containing materials, particularly at vulnerable areas such as elbows, tees, and valves. Damaged insulation around pipes or boilers should be reported to a qualified person for assessment and implementation of corrective action and repair.
Asbestos in the home and tradesmen
It is estimated there are around 500,000 public buildings in the UK that contain harmful asbestos materials: often hidden away, forgotten, and by and large, harmless - in its undisturbed state.
With so many period properties posing potential risk, the importance of asbestos awareness training among young and recently qualified tradesman is set to increase as employers seek to protect workers against a problem that will be around for some years yet.
There is today a new generation of construction workers, including; joiners, electricians and plumbers for whom asbestos is seen as a historical problem, something from the past that’s now long gone...mistakenly.
Tony Whitson, chairman of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum, recently said: "As we confront the awful legacy from past exposure, the importance of asbestos awareness and training today cannot be exaggerated. It's absolutely vital."
If you are suspicious and believe you may have asbestos on your property, have training needs, or have asbestos you wish removed: or just want some further advice on asbestos in the home, then contact one of our qualified advisors here at www.asbestostraininglimited.com.
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