When faced with asbestos removal, as in many cities across the country, property owners can often feel overwhelmed. Asbestos regulations are difficult to understand, while finding a quality abatement specialist requires plenty of research.
However, dealing with asbestos does not have to be a major headache. Here at Spa Asbestos, we specialise in all aspects of asbestos removal. We take a personable approach to environmental services, decoding technical jargon to present the realities of asbestos in homes, workplaces, public buildings and beyond.
The internet is awash with asbestos horror stories that can frighten homeowners and building stakeholders who may encounter the hazardous substance. While the dangers of asbestos are very real, backed by scientific fact, we believe that proactive management and modern asbestos removal techniques can improve safety standards and minimise the potential for harm.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the generic term for a group of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals, composed of thin fibres. However, beyond the technical spiel and textbook definitions, what exactly is asbestos, in real terms?
Well, asbestos was overwhelmingly used as a building material, either on its own or occasionally mixed with other products. Mined in large qualities throughout Canada, Russia and a host of other countries, asbestos became known as a ‘wonder material’ during its pomp due to a raft of versatile properties, such as its fire resistance and ability to insulate buildings.
Why was asbestos used so much?
Asbestos was very cheap to excavate, transport and use. Coupled with its practical utility, the material became a go-to resource for builders and contractors across the country.
During World War II, many UK cities were destroyed by sustained bombing raids. Accordingly, in the 1950s and 1960s, local councils faced the daunting task of rebuilding hundreds of schools, universities, hospitals, houses and libraries in a short space of time, so as to help the country recover quickly from combat.
Affordable and versatile, asbestos was a transformative product in that project. It allowed local authorities to reconstruct more buildings in a shorter period of time, minimising disruption to essential services. Private landlords and building firms followed suit, using asbestos more readily amid a generational boom.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
While the positive applications of asbestos are clear, they are outweighed by a number of potentially fatal health risks. When disturbed or damaged, asbestos released dangerous fibres. Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause two types of cancer: mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer. Additionally, asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs, is also a potential consequence of exposure.
Around 3,500 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases. A latency period of between 10 and 60 years from exposure often leads to complacency among homeowners and construction workers. Such an attitude must be addressed, and our proven services can help.
The first documented death relating to asbestos happened in 1906, but regulations to control exposure were only introduced in 1969. Knowledge of potential dangers didn’t spread until the 1970s, and after various stages of reform, asbestos was banned in 1999. It is illegal to import, supply or use asbestos in the UK as a whole.
What is asbestos removal?
Following the asbestos ban, local governments, businesses and contractors faced pressure to remove the product, limiting the risk of exposure for people using public buildings and communal spaces. Likewise, private landlords and homeowners undertook increased asbestos sampling, seeking to comply with changing regulations.
The asbestos removal industry can therefore be seen as a force for public good. The asbestos removal process can seem complicated, but companies such as Spa Asbestos are committed to excellence in this regard.
There are two classic strands of asbestos removal: licensed asbestos removal and non-licensed asbestos removal. Licensed asbestos removal encompasses higher risk materials in larger quantities, while non-licensed asbestos removal must adhere to a very specific set of circumstances.
Nevertheless, professional guidance should always be sought prior to working with, near or on asbestos-containing materials. Removing asbestos, regardless of its extent and condition, can be incredibly dangerous. Similarly, disposing of asbestos requires a nuanced understanding of the rulebook. We are more than happy to discuss your challenges, dispensing free advice on the best course of action for your asbestos removal needs.
What products contain asbestos, and what does asbestos look like?
Confusingly, asbestos fibres are microscopic, making them invisible to the human eye. However, it is possible for trained professionals to identify asbestos-containing materials through detailed inspection.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 place a legal duty on building owners and managers to identify, manage and – where needed – remove asbestos from their premises. Specifically, Regulation 4 says that the building dutyholder must, among other responsibilities:
take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in;
make, and keep up-to-date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos- containing materials – or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos;
and provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them
Asbestos surveys achieve those objectives, especially before major refurbishment and demolition projects. We conduct asbestos surveys in Bath and beyond, supporting large businesses and individual homeowners alike as they seek asbestos help.
Asbestos can be found in more than 3,000 different building products. Almost any building built or refurbished prior to 2000 is therefore likely to contain asbestos. This makes asbestos the most serious occupational health hazard in Manchester and the UK, and the services of trained asbestos removal operatives should always be retained.
Where to find the best asbestos removal services
The asbestos removal industry can seem confusing when people first encounter the substance. It is common for new homeowners to hear a news story about asbestos and immediately head to Google with a range of anxious queries:
How much does asbestos removal cost?
Is my garage made of asbestos?
How to remove asbestos in Artex
How to remove asbestos vinyl floor tiles
HSE guidance on asbestos removal 'Control of asbestos regulations'
If you are ever in such a situation, take a deep breath and try to apply some context to the situation. Even commercial asbestos removal of the largest scale is manageable for trained professionals who have done this for many years. There is always somebody who can help.
Here at Spa Asbestos, we are distinguished by a modern philosophy of environmental health and safety. We appreciate that times have changed and so has the landscape of asbestos removal. We are at the cutting edge of that innovation, ready to help when you need us most.
If you are worried about asbestos in your home, workplace or local area, get in touch with us