What is asbestos? Asbestos is a fibrous silicate mineral that is naturally occurring and for decades was an extremely popular material in the construction and automotive industries as it has very desirable properties. Resistant to heat and electricity as well as corrosion it was widely used, but in 1999 it became a banned substance in the UK when it’s carcinogenic properties were confirmed. Asbestos is officially the UK’s biggest workplace killer with over 5,000 deaths related to asbestos occurring every year in this country. So, it is worth knowing what it is and where it might be found, as potentially millions of people are still at risk of asbestos exposure, and even a small amount of exposure can cause serious health issues in the future. Whilst non-domestic premises are subject to the Duty to Manage Asbestos regulations, domestic properties also need to be checked, so here are some things to help you identify if asbestos is present in your house. What to look for: Whilst a specialist is the only one able to confirm if a substance really is or isn’t asbestos, there are a few signs that can help you to know when it’s time to call in an expert like DES Holdings. The age of the building If your building was constructed before 1980, then there is a high chance that there was asbestos used in the construction, and probably in multiple ways. Any cladding of large panels held together with aluminium, plastic or wooden runners might well contain asbestos. Check the surface area as modern materials will have a smooth finish, but those containing asbestos often have surface patterns or are an off-white or grey colour. Some items, such as cladding or roofing tiles and ducting or cement pipework, were made out of moulded asbestos, which is a non-friable material and if undamaged is probably not so harmful – although it is still better to replace any asbestos-containing materials completely. Moulded items frequently carry a stamp, and an ‘NT’ means it is safe, however if it has an ‘AC’ stamp, it’s an asbestos-containing material and needs to be treated with extreme caution. Common items that could contain asbestos Some of the most common things that could contain asbestos in a residential property are: Insulation – as asbestos has great insulating properties it was often used in roofing tiles, roofing or wall insulation, around water heaters and tanks and pipes. Wall paint – paint made before the 1990s often contained asbestos. Ceilings – panels and Artex, or similar textured coatings, often contained asbestos. Roofing – tiles, soffit boards, and rainwater items such as gutters and downpipes. Flooring – floor tiles, vinyl flooring, flooring adhesives and even carpet underlay. Sealants – caulking and window putty or other sealing agents, even the toilet cistern could have asbestos-reinforced resin composite materials. Fire-proof materials – doors and cabinets, flues and cowls for fireplaces as well as the paper proofing inside fireplaces and near stoves or fuse boxes where wires can have individual asbestos flash guards. Ductwork – ducting that feeds central heating and air conditioning units. Pipes – some cement pipes for gas or sewage were made with asbestos, and these are dangerous as they can deteriorate causing asbestos to leak into the pipe. Sheds and garages – roof or floor panels and tiles. Drywall – although more often in commercial buildings this could still be an issue in a domestic property. What to do if you think you have asbestos in your property If you think that you possibly have asbestos present in your house, then you should call a licensed asbestos removal contractor, such as DES Holdings. We will visit your property and conduct an asbestos survey and potentially remove samples of materials that might contain asbestos, to be tested in a laboratory. After the results return from the lab, we will be able to advise you on the next steps, how to protect yourself and your family from exposure and how we will remove it safely and dispose of it in line with legal guidelines. With over 30 years of industry experience and specialist knowledge, our team are highly trained and accredited for the identification and safe removal of asbestos in domestic and commercial settings. Call today to book your domestic asbestos survey.