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Asbestos is a substance that was commonly used during building construction and is present in many buildings today.

It was only banned from use in 1999 and asbestos can be still found in many locations at homes or in the workplace. Asbestos if fine if left undisturbed and usually poses no problems. However, extreme care must be taken to prevent the release of fibres as they can cause serious damage to your health and the health of those around you when inhaled.

Asbestos-related diseases are the number one cause of work-related deaths and recent research has show that this number is still likely to increase due to people being exposed at work. 

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fibre that forms in certain rocks. It has a number of properties, including its strength, its ability to absorb sound, has 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 be inhaled (breathed-in) through the nose or the mouth. The fibres pass into 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 and often disease is seen many years after an individuals' initial exposure. There are currently approximately 3000 deaths per year within the United Kingdom from asbestos related diseases.

If material containing asbestos is in good condition and not damaged, there is not a significant risk of illness associated with exposure to it, in fact trying to deal with it may put you at greater risk.

Who is at risk?

People who may be at risk from asbestos-related diseases are those people using your building who may damage or disturb asbestos containing material.

Where will I find Asbestos?

Asbestos has been used in many materials and 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 used for insulation
  • asbestos cement, such as corrugated roof panels, guttering, decorative plaster finishes
  • insulation board used as wall partitions, fire doors, ceiling tiles
  • sprayed coatings

Please note that asbestos was banned from being manufactured in the 1980s and it is therefore 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 employ a contractor to remove any asbestos, but you must ensure that they are 'approved' by the Health and Safety Executive to undertake these works. If you are unsure the contractor is competent 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 contractor 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

As a result of the extensive use of asbestos as a building material, asbestos is frequently found within many existing 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 professionally. You 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 do work with Asbestos can I do 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.

However we do suggest the following guidelines for taking down and preparing your asbestos for collection.

Guidelines on Removal

In order to minimise exposure and control the spread of asbestos, you need to consider the following 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 reasonably practicable to produce a safe system of work and provide safe access, they should be taken down whole. Roof sheets should preferably 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 asbestos. Members of the public may 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

  • Environmental Safety and Health, 3-5 St James's Road, Dudley, DY1 1HZ
    Telephone 0300 555 2345
    Opening Hours Monday to Friday, 8.45 am to 5.00 pm. Please note that the offices are closed at weekends and Bank Holidays