Asbestos is not something to be sniffed at – if not managed and dealt with correctly, it can pose a severe threat to your health. Asbestos was used as a key building material to aid insulation for hundreds of years, now replaced by popular alternatives such as Fibreglass, Polyurethane Foam and Cellulose Fibres. Here at Thompsons of Prudhoe, a lot of projects we work on requires the removal of asbestos, and it’s surprising how many people underestimate the dangers of correct removal – while being fully aware of the health risks it can bring. So we thought, hey, why not put together a guide to everything you need to know about asbestos in construction? Carry on reading to learn more…
Everything you need to know about asbestos in construction
What is asbestos?
Asbestos was a popular building and insulation material between 1930 to 1950, and was still being used until it was officially banned in 1985 (Chrysotile (white) in 1999). Matter of fact, the two most dangerous types (blue and brown) have not been imported into the UK for around 20 years now.
Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals composed of thin, needle-like fibres. Historically used in building materials, such as cloth, paper, cement and plastic to make them stronger and aid insulation, the health risks are now more public knowledge than ever before. If asbestos fibres are inhaled or digested, it can be incredibly dangerous as the mineral fibres can become trapped in your body forever.
What are the common types of asbestos?
There are three main types of asbestos – how do you identify which is which? Here goes:
- Chrysotile (white asbestos) – Chrysotile is the most common type of asbestos. Often contaminated with trace amounts of tremolite, Chrysotile fibres are usually very fine in texture and possess high flexibility and good heat resistant properties. What purpose is it ideal for? Find out over on our blog > The Science Behind Asbestos.
- Amosite (brown asbestos) – Amosite is strong and heat-resistant – commonly used in cement, plumbing insulation and electrical insulation. Though all types of asbestos are toxic, amosite asbestos exposure has a comparatively higher cancer risk.
- Crocidolite (blue asbestos) – Crocidolite has very thin fibres and if inhaled, it can easily lodge in the lungs. It’s thin fibres and brittle nature make for crocidolite to be one of the most harmful forms of asbestos – why? Read more over on The Science Behind Asbestos.
What does asbestos look like?
Asbestos can have a similar appearance to loft insulation – fuzzy and soft. There are however many different types of asbestos for different purposes, that come with many different dangers. Here are a few and how to spot them:
- Loose asbestos (found usually in ceilings or under floorboards) can look similar to candy floss, but in a blue-grey-white colour.
- Lagging (usually applied to pipes) can be harder to detect to the untrained eye and tends to be a more flaky and powdery consistency.
- Sprayed asbestos (found on ceilings, walls and beams) is usually white or grey and usually has a rough surface.
If my building or home has asbestos… Should I remove it myself?
In one word – NO! Please do not try to remove any trace of asbestos yourself without the correct knowledge or tools to do so. Leave it to the professionals here at Thompsons of Prudhoe. There are many different stages of asbestos removal – before the actual asbestos is removed.
Starting with extensive surveys – it is important to appoint an experienced can competent surveyor to carry out an extensive R&D Survey which helps identify the type, location and quantity of asbestos which is present on site. Their job is to go over the building with a fine-tooth comb, to ultimately outline and minimise any risk of danger and contaminants.
The next step is to brief the contractor in as much detail as possible about the structure of the building before any removal can begin. All team members will have gone through extensive training to be on board the project, and all machinery and tools will have been checked prior to any work starting. The contractor needs to know all about the type and condition of the asbestos, in addition to the exact location of where it is. This knowledge will help them to devise a safe and efficient plan of action – it is CRUCIAL that everyone follows the guidelines and appropriate risk assessments are carried out.
The contractor then needs to ensure that the site is set-up in strict accordance with CDM Regulations 2015 and in accordance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
What do I do if my building has asbestos?
It can be extremely hard to detect if asbestos is present in your workplace or at home – you can’t tell by sight, smell or colour. As the fibres are so small, they actually compare to about 10 TIMES smaller than the width of human hair! Therefore the only way that you can tell if asbestos is present is by having samples tested in a lab. If asbestos is found, then you should have it removed properly by industry professionals (hello!).
Here at Thompsons of Prudhoe, in addition to being members of the trade associations ARCA and NFDC, we are trained and licensed contractors in the North East, experienced in the management and removal of asbestos. Our team ensures that all types of asbestos that we encounter are removed safely and effectively. We hold a full 3-year asbestos removal license issued by the Health & Safety Executive, demonstrating that our asbestos removal teams work to the highest possible standard within this highly regulated area of industry.
When you need the first-class service – Thompsons of Prudhoe is the team you need on your side. Give us a call today on +44(0)1661 832 422 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.