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Asbestos was commonly used in building construction and is present in many buildings today.

It was banned from use in 1999 but asbestos can be still found in many locations at homes or in the workplace.
Asbestos is fine if left undisturbed and usually poses no problems. However, extreme care must be taken to prevent the release of asbestos fibres. When inhaled the fibres can cause serious damage to your health and the health of those around you.
Asbestos-related diseases are the number one cause of work-related deaths. Research shows that this number is likely to increase due to people being exposed at work. 

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fibre. It has many properties, including its strength, its ability to absorb sound, thermal properties and resistance to acid.

There are three common types of asbestos:

  • crocodolite (blue asbestos)
  • chrysolite (white asbestos)
  • amosite (brown asbestos)

What are the dangers with asbestos?

Asbestos fibres may breathed in through the nose or mouth. The fibres enter the lung and chest lining and may result in an asbestos-related disease, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and certain cancers. Unfortunately, there is no cure for these diseases. Often disease appears many years after an individual's initial exposure. There are more than 5,000 deaths per year in the UK from asbestos related diseases.
If material containing asbestos is in good condition and not damaged, there is not a significant risk of illness from exposure to it. In fact, trying to deal with it may put you at greater risk.

Who is at risk?

Anyone using your building who may damage or disturb asbestos containing material may be at risk from asbestos-related diseases.

Where will I find asbestos?

Asbestos is found in many materials. It is very difficult to determine whether a material contains asbestos purely by looking at it. A laboratory would confirm whether a material contains asbestos or not. Common locations of asbestos include:

  • lagging around pipes/boilers
  • asbestos cement, such as corrugated roof panels, guttering, decorative plaster finishes
  • insulation boards used as wall partitions, fire doors, ceiling tiles
  • sprayed coatings

Asbestos was banned from manufacture in the 1980s. It is more common in buildings built before this date.

Asbestos in your home

We can advise homeowners on the detection and safe removal of low-risk asbestos from houses, sheds and garages. Homeowners have a legal responsibility to ensure that any asbestos in houses is safe.

If you have asbestos in your home or property

  • Always seek specialist advice
  • Consult the building owner or your landlord – they may already know exactly where it is and what needs (or does not need) to be done
How do I contact a contractor?

You may use a contractor to remove any asbestos, but you must make sure that they are approved by the Health and Safety Executive to do the work. If you are unsure, contact the HSE on 0121 607 6200. Please note that we do not hold this information.

What do I do if I'm not happy with the contactor I employ?

If you are not happy with their work or method of work, you should complain directly to the Health and Safety Executive on 0121 607 6200.

Please note we do not enforce health and safety legislation on persons working at domestic premises.

For further information please contact Private Sector Housing Services, 0300 555 2345.

General contact form.

Asbestos in commercial and industrial premises

Asbestos was extensively used as a building material and is frequently found in many workplaces.

Asbestos collection service

We don't offer a collection service for asbestos waste.

How can I get rid of asbestos?

You are strongly advised to contact a member of the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA) and ask for it to be removed professionallyYou can do a limited amount of work yourself, but you will need to ensure that you follow strict guidelines carefully so as to not expose yourself or others to asbestos fibres.

Can I work with asbestos myself?

You must ensure that you are competent to do any work with asbestos. If you are in any doubt, you should contact us for advice.

We have the following guidelines for taking down and preparing your asbestos for collection.

To minimise exposure and control the spread of asbestos, you should follow these general precautions:

  • keep other people away from the area of work
  • use hand tools rather than power tools
  • where reasonably practicable, remove the asbestos cement before the rest of the structure is demolished
  • where possible, avoid further breaking the sheets
  • keep the material wet when working on it
  • where possible, lower the material onto a clean hard surface
  • remove waste and debris from the site as soon as possible to prevent it being crushed underfoot or by moving vehicles
  • do not bulldoze broken asbestos cement or sheet into piles
  • do not dry sweep asbestos cement debris
  • dispose of the waste and debris safely

Manual dismantling methods

If asbestos cement sheets are in good condition and it is practicable to produce a safe system of work and provide safe access, they should be taken down whole. Roof sheets should be removed from underneath with mobile elevating work platforms, for example scissor lifts or cherry pickers.

There are a number of contractors who will undertake this type of work. If you would like further information or advice please contact us as per the details below.

What to do if you are concerned about asbestos

The Health and Safety Executive provides extensive information and advice on the use and removal of asbestosYou can contact the Health and Safety Executive infoline, 0845 345 0055, for general advice on asbestos.

For further information please contact: Waste Care, Environmental Management, Lister Road Depot, Lister Road, Dudley, West Midlands, DY2 8JW. Telephone: 0300 555 2345

Contact Us

Environmental Safety and Health
3-5 St James's Road

Telephone 0300 555 2345

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday - 8.45am to 5pm.
Offices are closed at weekends and Bank Holidays.