Where is Asbestos Commonly Found?
October 20th, 2022
Last updated: June 9th, 2023
Asbestos was fully banned in the UK in 1999, having been phased out some time before. In the late 20th century the world woke up to the hazards of the substance and how damaging it could be, and it was decided that it should not be used in the building process anymore.
That said, it is impossible to get rid of a substance that has been so widely-used overnight. It still exists in a variety of different businesses, especially those that were built before the turn of the century.
For this reason, there is a lot of regulation, and restrictions on what you need to do when asbestos is discovered.
Dangers of Asbestos
The dangers of being exposed to asbestos were, of course, not understood when it was initially used but later the overwhelming evidence that it causes health problems led to its banning.
Issues that can stem from asbestos include:
- Asbestosis – a scarring of the lung that can cause sufferers to be short of breath and may even lead to death in some extreme cases.
- Mesothelioma – this is a type of cancer that can impact both the pleura (lining of the lungs) and the digestive system in humans. Sadly, it is usually fatal and is almost exclusively caused by being exposed to asbestos.
- Lung cancer – asbestos can cause lung cancer in the same way that smoking can.
- Pleural thickening – the pleura around the lung can swell up, causing the lungs to be squeezed and contract which can also mean a lot of discomfort and difficulty breathing.
Asbestos In Commercial Buildings – Where is Asbestos Found?
In commercial buildings, it is possible that there are many locations that you might find asbestos. Worryingly, many people may not even know when they find asbestos.
It has commonly be used on sprayed coatings on many different building materials. It is commonly found in water tanks, partition walls, old-style fire doors, around old boilers, and in Artex or similar textured products. The insulation and lagging for old-style pipes was also a place where asbestos was commonly used.
The external of a building may not be safe either, with roofing and guttering using asbestos and even some flues historically making use of the substances and asbestos cement.
Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) was used in a very widespread way back in the day, and this means that lift shafts, ceiling tile soffits, paneling and partition walls may be big risks.
The only way to be sure, and to know what steps you need to take about your asbestos is to get an asbestos survey carried out.
This type of survey is a thorough inspection of a commercial property to check for asbestos. The survey is carried out by trained, accredited professionals that can help to work out whether there is an asbestos risk and identify the next steps that you should take.
If You Find Asbestos
It is crucial to know what steps you should take when you find asbestos in your commercial property. It is your responsibility to deal with and manage any deposits that are leftover in your business premises, so it is crucial to know the steps to take.
When found, asbestos should be left well alone and definitely not disturbed. You should make no attempt to remove it yourself, and you should call the professionals to evaluate the risk. Also, be sure to keep the area extremely well ventilated.
The asbestos must be monitored and it is also crucial that employees are told about where it is. An asbestos log book should also be kept outlining any developments and where asbestos is on site, and signs displayed. You must avoid people coming into contact with asbestos, and the asbestos becoming disturbed and therefore releasing into the air.
If it is not disturbed, there is a “control limit” for asbestos, a level that is considered safe enough to be around should not be exceeded. “At the moment, the control limit is 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3). The control limit is not a ‘safe’ level and work activities involving asbestos should be designed to be as far below the control limit as possible. HSE has progressively tightened the control limit since 1987.”
For peace of mind, and to establish whether there is asbestos in your building, a full survey is essential. Robinsons Facilities Services can offer risk assessments and asbestos surveys to help you establish the risk and keep people safe, as well as advising you on the steps you should take to stay compliant.
Working across Yorkshire, we cover North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and South Yorkshire and offer a fast, efficient response time to all breakdowns and repairs. Contact us today, call 01423 226578 or get in touch to see how Robinsons Facilities Services can help.