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Where to find asbestos in the home

Many people associate asbestos with a dangerous material used in construction many years ago. Because its use is now banned there’s a tendency to believe that asbestos related diseases no longer exist. Hence you might be surprised to learn that every year in Britain more people die from these diseases than there are fatalities in road traffic accidents. Experts believe that deaths will peak in 2017, since the number of people found to be suffering with asbestos related diseases is growing.

Used for a variety of purposes in construction, it took decades to appreciate that this natural, relatively cheap material was incredibly dangerous. Throughout the 20th century it had been the material of choice for pipe and wall insulation, in ceilings and cement and it was incredibly heat resistant.  Millions of residential buildings across the UK contained it.

Asbestos self testing kits for DIY enthusiasts

In 1999, the use of asbestos for any application was completely prohibited in the UK and strict regulations now exist to protect people in the workplace.  However, people could well be exposed to asbestos in their homes without actually realising it.

It’s therefore important that people are made more aware of the potential risks of asbestos, particularly DIY enthusiasts who may encounter it when renovating their homes.  Left alone asbestos that is in good condition is not a major concern but when disturbed it can pose a major health hazard.

If you are concerned that your home may contain asbestos you owe it to your own health and that of your family to invest in an asbestos testing kit, before embarking on a renovation project.  If asbestos fibres get into anyone’s lungs, they could ultimately kill them and there is no way of knowing when that might occur. With asbestos, the old adage “it’s better to be safe than sorry” could never be more appropriate.

Where to look for asbestos in the home

It’s important to know where asbestos could be hiding in your home and how it can be removed or dealt with safely.  Spreading particles in the air when disposing of asbestos can be lethally dangerous.

Asbestos comprises a group of natural, fibrous minerals including:

Anthophyllite
Amosite
Tremolite
Chrysotile
Actinolite
Crocidolite
Because of its durability, heat resistant and insulation properties asbestos was for many years the material of choice in construction. It can be found in everything from old vinyl flooring to soundproofing.  Here are the main areas to use an asbestos test kit when searching for asbestos that might be hiding in your home.

Fire blankets and doors
Floor tile adhesive
Vinyl floor and ceiling tiles
Linoleum
Boarding on walls
Water tanks and WC cisterns
Cement on pipes
Thermal insulation around the boiler, pipes and ducts
Some types of duct tape
Textured coatings
Plaster
Sealant around windows and joints including putty
Corrugated panels
Fireplaces
Roof and wall insulation
Roofing shingles and flashing
Unfortunately you won’t find branding on asbestos so it is a hidden, deadly, health hazard especially when it’s disturbed.

Asbestos self-testing kits

Before starting a renovation project, the asbestos self testing kit can considerably save on the costs of an asbestos survey.  The average fee for a survey is £270 in the UK which does not include testing of samples. Asbestos self testing kits from Asbestos Sampling start at £39.95 including postage, packaging and one sample test.  For further samples the price increases incrementally but it’s a huge saving when compared to surveys. Kits are dispatched and arrive the next day. They contain everything you need to safely take samples with instructions on how to do so.

Ordinarily you will receive the test results back within a couple of days of our lab receiving them. When test results identify the presence of asbestos you’ll need to know the best way to remove it or seal it off.

Dealing with asbestos in the home

By far the best way of dealing with asbestos in the home is to employ the services of a professional, licensed contractor.  However, if you intend to resolve your asbestos problems personally, here is how professionals eliminate, cover or seal the material off.

Using an airtight barrier so that no damage occurs, isolate the asbestos
Spray a sealant over the material to temporarily trap the fibres
Repair minor breaks in insulation
Enclose the area where asbestos has been identified. Using a specialist asbestos vacuum cleaner, hoover it. Seal the vents or ducts if there are any. Moisten the asbestos with water which prevents particles becoming airborne when it is removed.
Disposal of asbestos once removed is subject to Government regulation. Contact your local authority for more information on licensed disposal sites in your area.

Common sense do’s and don’ts

Reduce, minimise or stop activity in areas identified to contain asbestos. Keep children away from those areas.

Don’t use a normal domestic vacuum cleaner, duster or brush to clean asbestos containing areas

From a DIY point of view small amounts of asbestos can be dealt with but for large areas it is essential to seek professional assistance.

Asbestos fibres can remain dormant in the lungs for many years

If you suspect the presence of asbestos in your home don’t underestimate the importance of doing something about it.

By the time doctors began to associate various lung diseases and mesothelioma (a particularly aggressive form of cancer) with exposure to asbestos, the damage had already been done and was irreversible.  This is because the fibres from asbestos can remain dormant in the lungs for as long as 20 years from the time a person has first been exposed to it.

Mesothelioma mimics so many other illnesses that it is often diagnosed far too late for any treatment to be effective so there are few survivors. It is most likely to be diagnosed in people who worked in shipbuilding and industrial work during the 60s and 70s.

Asbestos Sampling

At Asbestos Sampling we have a mine of information at your disposal. Our advice comes at no cost so make sure you take advantage of it! We have a database of asbestos removal contractors so if you are struggling to find one, contact us. Check out the reviews on our asbestos testing kits and our video for more information.

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