Asbestos Explained by our Specialists

Our asbestos specialists answer questions that are often asked about asbestos. Including what asbestos is, where to find it and the types of asbestos. For more information on asbestos removal or for advice please contact us.
What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring Silicate Minerals. Asbestos use and mining existed more than 4000 years ago but large scale industrial use and mining began at the end of the 19th Century. Its main uses have been in acoustic and thermal insulation products but has been used in a variety of construction products please click on link to view items which contain asbestos but this list is not exhaustive. Asbestos is still mined and used in countries such as Russia, China, Brazil and Kazakhstan

Exposure to Asbestos is primarily caused through inhalation of unsealed Asbestos fibres and can lead to diseases such as Asbestosis, Lung Cancer or Mesothelioma.

When considering how to avoid the risks from asbestos e.g. for small building works, no employee should be asked to carry out work which disturbs the fabric of the building unless the employer or Principal Contractor has confirmed that Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) are not present.

Therefore, before commencing building renovation work it is important to instruct a refurbishment survey to identify that it is a safe working environment for all contractors.
Where is Asbestos Found?

Asbestos has been used in literally hundreds of applications and is found in many locations. Below is a guide to the main types of uses we have encountered, but this is by no means exhaustive:

  • Floor tiles and sheet flooring
  • Construction mastics & putties
  • Acoustic/decorative plaster (artex)
  • Textured paints/coatings
  • Gasket
  • Spray coatings
  • Pipework lagging
  • Boilers
  • Water Tanks
  • Soffits/fascia boards
  • Brake linings
  • Bituminous felts
  • Roofs, gutters, downpipes
  • Wall panels
  • Door linings
  • Fuse Boxes
  • Fire safes/filing cabinets
  • Taping compounds (thermal)
  • Packing materials – floor and walls
  • Loft insulation
  • Ventilation systems
Types of Asbestos

There are 3 main types of fibrous asbestos:
Guide to Asbestos Process

What you need to do

5 Common Uses of Asbestos

Spray asbestos coatings (fire protection) and pipework insulation lagging

Low density, soft surfaced, thermal insulation board, also known as ‘asbestolux’ (A.I.B) and millboard

High density, hard surfaced materials such as asbestos cement products. This is by far the most common use. This contains Chrysotile

Shipbuilding – Asbestos was considered ideal for use aboard ships until the 1980s. Asbestos could be found in the engine and boiler rooms, as well as in the walls, floors and ceilings of rooms such as the sleeping quarters and the galley

Ropes, yarns, cloths, gaskets, plastic, paper, textured coatings, vinyl floor tiles and stair nosings

Amount of deaths caused by Asbestos*

Asbestos causes the most deaths in the workplace in the UK (Lindermysers, 2013)

*in 2014
Health Risks from Asbestos

(a cancer of the lining of the lungs; it is always fatal and is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos)
Lung Cancer

Asbestos-related lung cancer (which is almost always fatal)

A scarring of the lungs which is not always fatal but can be a very debilitating disease, greatly affecting quality of life.
Diffuse pleural thickening

A thickening of the membrane surrounding the lungs which can restrict lung expansion leading to breathlessness.
What is the 'duty to manage' asbestos?

The duty to manage asbestos is a legal requirement under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (Regulation 4). It applies to the owners and occupiers of commercial premises (such as shops, offices, industrial units etc) who have responsibility for maintenance and repair activities.

In addition to these responsibilities, they also have a duty to assess the presence and condition of any asbestos-containing materials. If asbestos is present, or is presumed to be present, then it must be managed appropriately. The duty also applies to the shared parts of some domestic premises.

For more in-depth information, please see the HSE's website.
How to Identify Asbestos
Unless an identification mark is present, it isn’t usually possible for a layman to identify asbestos. In many cases even an expert can’t even tell without finding the mark or having a sample analysed.

Please see below some examples of what Asbestos can look like:
Most importantly, if you think you have found asbestos DO NOT touch or disturb it.

Please give us a call and we can offer asbestos advice and remove it professionally.

Timeline of Asbestos Laws & Regulations

Emergence of Asbestosis
The Factory and Workshop Act 1901
The Merryweather and Price Report
The Asbestos Industry Regulations 1931
The Factories Act 1961
First Successful Personal Injuries Claim
The Asbestos Regulations 1969
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
Voluntary Import Ban
The Asbestos Licensing Regulations
The Asbestos Prohibitions Regulations
The Asbestos Products Safety Regulations
The Asbestos Products Safety (Amended) Regulations
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 1987
The Asbestos Prohibitions (Amended) Regulations
The Control of Asbestos in Air Regulations
The Control of Asbestos (Amended)Regulations
The Asbestos Prohibitions Regulations
The Asbestos Licensing (Amended) Regulations
The Asbestos Prohibitions (Amended) (No.2) Regulations
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2002
The Asbestos Prohibitions (Amended) Regulations
The Asbestos Licensing (Amended) Regulations
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

For more Asbestos Advice

For more Asbestos advice please contact our friendly team at KPL Environmental. Our specialist team have over 50 years experience of offering asbestos services to both commercial and domestic.