Asbestos, a Silent Hazard Lurking in Older UK Homes
Asbestos, once a widely used construction material due to its durability and fire resistance, has now become a silent threat to Essex homeowners, especially those residing in properties built before the year 2000. In the United Kingdom, asbestos was only banned in 1999, making it crucial for homeowners to be aware of its potential presence. In this article, we will delve into the world of asbestos, explaining what it is, when you might need an asbestos survey company in Essex and the critical details of this survey.
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that naturally crystallizes into fibres. Its resistance to water, heat, fire, chemicals, and biological degradation made it a preferred choice in construction. When undisturbed, asbestos is not considered harmful. However, when damaged, it can release tiny fibres that, if inhaled or ingested, can result in health issues such as asbestosis and an increased risk of certain cancers.
There are two types of asbestos: serpentine (chrysotile or white asbestos) and amphiboles (blue or brown asbestos). While amphibole asbestos was banned in 1985, white asbestos faced prohibition in 1999 and is the type most found in buildings.
When Do You Need an Asbestos Survey?
Although domestic homeowners in the UK are not legally required to check for asbestos, it is strongly advisable due to the potential health risks. You may want to consider an asbestos survey in the following scenarios:
When Purchasing a Pre-2000 Property
If you are buying a property constructed before 2000, it’s prudent to ensure it doesn’t contain asbestos, especially if you plan any renovation or demolition work.
Prior to Refurbishment or Demolition
If you intend to renovate or demolish any part of your home, an asbestos survey is essential to identify and manage potential asbestos risks.
Utility Company Works
If a utility company is performing works on your property, they may request an asbestos survey to ensure the safety of their employees and the public.
Renting Out Your Property
If you plan to let your property, safeguarding your tenants’ health is crucial, making an asbestos survey a wise choice.
Property Relocation to a Pension
If you are considering moving your property into a pension plan, understanding the presence of asbestos can affect property valuation and financial planning.
Becoming a Landlord
Landlords are held to higher standards and must be aware of asbestos in common areas, including stairways, roof spaces, and parking areas.
What’s Involved in an Asbestos Survey?
Asbestos surveys are conducted by trained specialists identifying asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) within a property. The survey involves three key steps:
Identifying Asbestos Presence
Specialists determine whether asbestos is present and pinpoint its location within the property.
Assessing Accessibility and Condition
The surveyors assess the accessibility and condition of the asbestos-containing materials, considering any previous treatments.
Identifying Asbestos Type
Specialists identify the precise type of asbestos present through sampling or visual inspection.
After the survey, you will receive a detailed report outlining the surveyor’s findings. This report serves as a guide for determining the necessary actions to address asbestos-related concerns.
Dealing with Asbestos Presence
If the survey uncovers asbestos in your home, there’s no need to panic. Not all asbestos requires immediate removal. Monitoring may suffice if the material is in good condition, inaccessible, and not damaged. However, if the asbestos is deteriorating, producing loose fibres, and is easily accessible, removal is highly recommended.
Furthermore, it’s essential to inform tradespeople working in affected areas about the presence of asbestos to ensure their safety and regulations compliance.
In conclusion, being informed about asbestos and conducting an asbestos survey, when necessary, are crucial steps in safeguarding your health and property value. While it may seem like a thing of the past, asbestos remains a present concern for homeowners in the UK, particularly in older properties. Stay proactive and ensure the safety of your home and those who inhabit it.