What you should know
The word ‘asbestos’ comes from the Greek word for ‘unquenchable’. It’s applied to a group of natural minerals which are fireproof and remarkably resistant to acids and alkalis. It’s also been discovered that asbestos is a highly efficient insulator and can be combined with other materials to produce a product of greater strength.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that was a popular building material from the 1950s to the 1980s. It’s used as an insulator (to keep heat in and keep cold out); it has good fire protection properties, and it prevents corrosion.
However, asbestos had been used as an insulation material since the early part of the 19th century – chiefly because of its heat resistant properties. It could be fashioned into a paste, into sheets or rope. The real increase in the use of asbestos in the UK occurred after the 1930s. It was used for corrugated roofing; insulation around pipework; in sheet form to box-in pipes; on ships; in houses; in factories; in power stations, and in public buildings such as schools and hospitals.
It was often mixed and cut. In addition, asbestos was often stripped from pipes and boiler work to maintain valves and pipes underneath.
Today, asbestos is found in many products used in buildings, notably:
Sprayed coating:asbestos is found as fire protection on structural supports such as columns and beams. It’s a high hazard asbestos product and can generate very high fibre levels if disturbed.
Pipe Insulation: asbestos thermal pipe lagging is a high hazard asbestos product.
Asbestos insulating board (AIB) ceiling and door panels: AIB is a high hazard asbestos product and can generate high levels of fibres if the board is cut or drilled.·
AIB window panel: like other AIB, this is a high hazard asbestos product. If it’s in good condition, it should be left undisturbed.
Floor tiles: vinyl (PVC) or thermoplastic tiles contain asbestos.
Asbestos cement roof sheeting: asbestos cement sheeting is often found on industrial building roofs and walls.
Textured decorative coating (such as Artex): textured coatings contain a small amount of asbestos. The asbestos is well bonded and fibres aren’t easily released. However, it’s still an asbestos product and, as such, needs to be worked carefully, taking the worker’s safety into consideration.
It’s often hard to know if you’re working with asbestos or not, because it’s often mixed with other materials. However, if you work in a building that was built before the year 2000, it’s likely that some parts of the building will contain asbestos.
The good news is that asbestos materials in good condition are safe. The not so good news is that, if these materials are damaged, asbestos fibres can become airborne – and that presents some potentially serious risks.
Types of asbestos
The three most common forms of asbestos used in the UK were:
• Chrysotile (white asbestos)
• Amosite (brown asbestos)
• Crocidolite (blue asbestos)
White asbestos, mined mainly in Quebec, South Africa and Central Russia, contains the softest asbestos fibres. When viewed under a microscope, these appear curly and flexible. If it’s any consolation, individual white asbestos fibres are less carcinogenic than blue or brown asbestos fibres.
Blue and Brown Asbestos
Blue and brown asbestos were mined mainly in South Africa. Under a microscope, the fibres appear very sharp, stiff and needle-like. Blue asbestos is the most carcinogenic form of asbestos and was often used for insulating naval vessels. It displays excellent resistant properties in the presence of acids, so it was often mixed with cement to produce asbestos cement sheets that were designed for use in areas where they would be exposed to chemicals.
A further form of asbestos is known as Tremolite, which can be found in the earth’s crust, but has only been mined commercially on a small scale. Traces can be found in some industrial talc.
Asbestos Risk Assessments
Asbestos risk assessments are essential for the safe and effective management of asbestos. After initially identifying that asbestos is present, it can be difficult to know how best to manage this situation safely and non-destructively - especially if the asbestos is in an internal or hidden area.
Waste King’s asbestos risk assessments and surveys help us to help you by devising a management plan suitable for your individual needs.
Asbestos presents many real and hazardous risks, especially if it’s dealt with incorrectly, but Waste King employs experts who can identify and quantify these risks.
To find out how we can help you stay safe, please contact us.
Waste King provides a comprehensive asbestos management programme which is tailored to the exact needs of your building, its occupants and your business.
First, we conduct an in-depth survey of the area which is suspected of containing asbestos, including carrying out air sampling and asbestos testing of any materials suspected of containing asbestos. The results of this survey help us devise your asbestos management plan and decide the most effective way to deal with any asbestos found - be it removal and disposal, or encapsulation.
As an asbestos consultancy and management company, Waste King can provide you with a report of its findings for inclusion in your asbestos register. This is a legal requirement - so it’s essential that your asbestos register is kept up-to-date with any necessary changes. Moreover, you need to provide proof of regular inspections to confirm that you’ve taken responsibility for any asbestos that’s present in your building.
Please contact Waste King if you need more information about our asbestos management plans.
If you suspect that asbestos is present in your building, please speak to a member of our expert team without delay - to discover your options.
Waste King provides fully trained and experienced operatives to ensure your asbestos removal is carried out safely – and with the minimum amount of inconvenience to the client
Moreover, Waste King’s conduct of all asbestos removal projects meets current industry legislation, approved codes of practice and HSE guidance notes.
Not only does Waste King apply the most effective techniques for asbestos removal, its operatives’ actions are supported by detailed method statements which are designed to ensure adherence to best practice at all times.
Working nationally, Waste King’s operatives are experienced in working in challenging environments and difficult conditions.
This includes working on buildings of significant architectural interest and working at height, where asbestos use has been extensive and may pose an additional risk due to its poor condition. In many circumstances, Waste King can offer additional services to ‘make-good’ following removal works.