Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fibrous mineral. It is fire-resistant, strong, resilient and insoluble. These properties make it very useful to us, particularly as fire protection and insulation in buildings. It was used extensively as a building material in Great Britain from 1950 to the mid 1980s as lagging, insulating boards, asbestos cement sheets and coatings and may be still in place in many older buildings.
Asbestos is only a risk to health if fibres are allowed to enter the air and breathed in. Under no circumstances should you cut, saw or break up what you think may be asbestos sheeting. This can release asbestos fibres which are known to cause long term health problems if inhaled. If it is safely managed and contained it doesn't present a health hazard. Homeowners should contact a private asbestos contractor who will sample and analyse the material for the presence of asbestos. After analysis they should provide advice on the best course of action.
If asbestos is found it may not be necessary to remove it but it may be possible to use other techniques to deal with it. It is possible for materials like asbestos cement sheeting to be dealt without a licence if it is dealt with in the correct way. Check the guidance listed below for further help on treatment and disposal. All Council civic amenity sites with the exception of Bonaveh and Cliad are able to deal with asbestos (from householders only). Details can be found here. It is recommended that householders contact the civic amenity site before delivering the asbestos material.
It should be remembered that asbestos can be very difficult to identify and if you are unsure it is recommended that you seek professional advice and to use a specialist contractor to remove asbestos from your property and to dispose of it properly. Contact the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association on 01283 566467 for details of contractors in your area.
Links to further guidance
Health and Safety Executive Asbestos Guidance