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Asbestos in your home

Asbestos is a very dangerous substance that can seriously harm your health. It can be found in any building built before the year 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals, etc) and causes around 5,000 deaths every year.

If your property was built before 2000, it may contain materials made from asbestos.  Common locations are listed below, but there may be others in your home - so if in doubt, leave well alone and seek expert help:

  • asbestos cement on garage or shed roofs
  • asbestos cement in shed and garage wall panels
  • asbestos cement in drainpipes
  • asbestos cement or insulation board soffit, infill panels and partitions
  • asbestos cement on the side of bath panels
  • artex and other decorative coatings.

If you rent your home, your landlord is likely to be responsible for management of the asbestos.

Licensed asbestos contractors

We strongly recommend you use a licensed asbestos contractor to do the job for you. It may cost you more money, but it will not cost you your health.

Check whether a contractor is licensed to work with asbestos.

This advice is aimed at householders. The HSE have also produced a number of leaflets for businesses.

What to do if you have asbestos in your home

The general rule is to always leave asbestos alone, as it’s usually safe unless it's damaged or disturbed.

Paint indoor materials with an alkali-resistant paint such as PVA emulsion, and never sand, drill or saw asbestos materials.

If you cover up asbestos, make a note of where it is so that you are not exposed to asbestos fibres in subsequent DIY work.

Always seek advice before removing asbestos and follow the basic rules below if carrying out asbestos cement removal work. Do not attempt to remove asbestos lagging, spray coatings or large areas of insulation board by yourself, as these materials can only be safely removed by a licensed contractor.

Safe asbestos cement removal

Asbestos cement can be safely removed by remembering these basic rules:

  • prepare the work area by removing any unnecessary items and covering the floor and surfaces with disposable polythene sheeting
  • wear protective clothing like disposable overalls with hood, disposable dust mask CE marked to EN149 with FFP3 particulate filters for use with asbestos, and rubber or disposable gloves
  • damp down using a plant sprayer or hosepipe, but do not soak the area, as this will make cleaning up more difficult
  • remove the asbestos without breaking it up, and wrap it up in polythene sheeting or bags, then seal with tape
  • visually inspect the area and clear up any debris by hand, wiping down with disposable damp cloths, which must be disposed of as asbestos waste
  • never use a vacuum cleaner as this will just spread dust around
  • pick up polythene sheeting and remove protective clothing and dispose of both as asbestos waste
  • wash hands and face after the job is completed.

Asbestos disposal at Milhams Community Recycling Centre

Millhams Community Recycling Centre can only take a small amount of asbestos from home DIY projects. For example, if you want to get rid of a garage or shed that contains asbestos.

You must let the site operatives know that you have asbestos in your vehicle. If, as a householder, you intend to transport asbestos in your own vehicle, you do not need to be a registered carrier, provided that it’s your own waste.

Take the following steps to make sure that asbestos does not contaminate your vehicle:

  • spray sheets of asbestos cement with water
  • double wrap or double bag the asbestos cement with heavy duty polythene
  • secure the wrapping with tape and label it as containing asbestos
  • make sure the vehicle’s occupants do not have access to the asbestos waste.