What is asbestos?

Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the UK from the 1950s to the early 1980s.

Any building built before 2000 (including houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals) can contain asbestos. Asbestos materials in good condition are safe unless asbestos fibres become airborne, which happens when materials are damaged.

Where can asbestos be found in buildings?

Asbestos can be found in the following common materials (manufactured before the late 1980s):

  • Boiler vessels and pipework (insulation)
  • Roofing tiles and sheets
  • Wall and ceiling linings
  • Flooring materials
  • Garage and outbuilding roofing 

How can I tell if there is asbestos in my property?

It is difficult to determine the presence of asbestos by eye – testing is the only way to confirm whether asbestos is present.

Generally any material that remains in a sound condition and is not being disturbed will not pose a risk. 

If you suspect that a product contains asbestos and is showing signs of wear or deterioration then you should speak to your landlord, or seek specialist advice on testing (we would advise that testing is only carried out if the material you think could contain asbestos is defective, and poses a risk to occupants).

If it is damaged, work on/near it is planned (that will or could damage it), or removal is proposed – then the suspected asbestos containing material should first be surveyed and tested by a competent person. Appropriate risk remediation options can then be determined.