‘Any buildings built or refurbished before the year 2000 may contain asbestos. As long as the asbestos-containing material (ACM) is in good condition, and is not being or going to be disturbed or damaged, there is negligible risk. But if it is disturbed or damaged, it can become a danger to health, because people may breathe in any asbestos fibres released into the air’.
Frequently Asked Questions
The dictionary definition is: any of the fibrous amphibole and serpentine minerals, esp chrysotile and tremolite, that are incombustible and resistant to chemicals. It was formerly widely used in the form of fabric or board as a heat-resistant structural material. Source: Collins English Dictionary.
Asbestos was extensively used in the 20th Century and it is estimated 3,500 different products types had asbestos fibre within their makeup. The application of the material ranges from boards and insulation products through to small amounts within adhesives and textured paints.
- Asbestos still kills around 5000 workers each year, this is more than the number of people killed on the road.
- Around 20 tradesman die each week as a result of past exposure
- However, asbestos is not just a problem of the past. It can be present today in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000.
When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases. These diseases will not affect you immediately; they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything. This is why it is important that you protect yourself now.
Asbestos can cause the following fatal and serious diseases:
- Asbestos -related Lung Cancer
- Pleural thickening
Asbestos was a widely used material within commercial buildings, homes and machinery until 1999, when it was banned. This means that asbestos is common in the general environment. However, working directly with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) can give personal exposures to airborne asbestos that are much higher than normal environmental levels. Repeated occupational exposures can give rise to a substantial cumulative exposure over time. This will increase the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease in the future.
Suspect asbestos containing materials are sometimes identified within the homebuyers report. Indeed, a large percentage of houses may have some form of asbestos present, so their presence should not be too alarming.
The first stage is to confirm if the material does or does not contain asbestos. This is typically resolved by the collection and analysis of suspect material within the property. This can be a single sample of a suspect material or for completeness and peace of mind an asbestos management survey could be commissioned.
An asbestos management survey covers all accessible areas of the property and will collect samples of all suspect materials to provide a comprehensive asbestos risk register.
The presence of asbestos may have a negative impact on the value of a building.
The costs for asbestos removal, abatement or management can be expensive, so understanding the asbestos risk prior to purchase would be a prudent approach.
We find that if a building does contain significant amounts of asbestos containing materials then there tends to be a basis for renegotiation on the purchase price.
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