FAQs on asbestos cement products

FAQs on asbestos cement products

FAQ’s on asbestos cement products

Below are listed the most frequently asked questions that we receive about asbestos cement and asbestos containing paint products. For FAQ’s, on low density products (those products that absorb more than 30% of their weight of water) please click ‘FAQ’s on low density products’

Q: I am considering buying a house, which has an asbestos garage in the garden. Is the house safe to buy and if so how expensive will it be to dispose of the garage?

A: The product used on an asbestos garage will have been asbestos cement, which has an asbestos content of between 10 to 15%, and if it is in good condition and not being abraded or going to be abraded then it will not be releasing dangerous quantities of fibres. It should be monitored so if it is noticed that it is beginning to degrade it should be removed at that time. You do not need to use a licensed contractor to work on the garage but you should use a competent contractor. See our advice note ‘Working with Asbestos Cement Products’ for more details.

Q: I have an asbestos garage in my garden that has come to the end of its economic life and needs to be removed. I am being told that it will be very expensive, as I need to use a licensed contractor. Is this correct?

A: See my above answer, you do not need to employ a licensed contractor, but you do need to use one that is competent. Again refer to our advice note ‘Working with Asbestos Cement Products’

Q: My building society’s surveyor has advised that a house I am intending to purchase has an asbestos sheet/slate roof and so I need to either have it sealed or removed by a licensed contractor before I move in. How much is this likely to cost?

A: Your surveyor is giving you incorrect advice. If work is required on the roof you do not need to use a licensed contractor but as above you do need to use a competent contractor. Having a roof sealed is extremely difficult and since all the lichens, moss and dirt will need to be removed first, it will be counter productive, as the removal will release more asbestos fibres than leaving the roof alone. If the roof is not leaking then the sheets/slates must be in a reasonable condition and so the best course of action is to leave well alone. If the roof does need to be worked on then you will need to employ a specialist roofing contractor who we suggest is a member of a reputable trade association such as the National Federation of Roofing Contractors or a See our Advice Note for further information.

Q: What are the rules for when I have to use a licensed contractor to work with asbestos containing materials in my building?

Q: I understand that there are different kinds of asbestos called blue, brown & white with blue being the most dangerous. The slates on my roof are blue, does that mean that they contain blue asbestos and that they are causing damage to my family?

A: There are three different kinds of asbestos that have been commercially used in the UK, which are listed below in the order of their danger, Crocidolite being the most dangerous.

Crocidolite: this is known as blue asbestos

Amosite: this is known as brown asbestos

FAQs on asbestos cement products

Chrysotile: this is known as white asbestos

You cannot tell from looking at a product, which type of asbestos it contains. You have to use an electron microscope to tell the difference. The slates on your roof will be asbestos cement and will most probably contain Chrysotile. UK manufacturers stopped using Crocidolite in roofing products in the 60s.

From the answers below you will see that if your slate roof is in good condition and if it is not being abraded it will not be releasing dangerous quantities of fibres.

Q: I have been told that one asbestos fibre can kill is this correct?

A:Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found in the rocks in the UK and elsewhere in the world, it is constantly being eroded into the atmosphere. If you take a reading anywhere in the world you will find small quantities of asbestos fibres present. So asbestos fibres would be being breathed in by everyone even if asbestos had not been used by man. It is the inappropriate use by man, when quantities of fibres are released, which is so dangerous

Q: I am proposing to buy a new home which was built in the 60s. It has textured ceilings, which my surveyor advises may contain asbestos. Since it must be dangerous how can I safely remove it.

A: If the textured paint is in good condition and is not being abraded it will not be releasing dangerous quantities of fibres. Those paints that did contain asbestos only contained approximately 5% chrysotile (white) asbestos. So the best thing to do is to leave it alone and decorate by painting in the normal way. Keep a note that it does contain asbestos, so that if you or anyone else has to work on the ceilings you can take the necessary precautions to keep the dust to a minimum. If you strongly dislike the texturing and wish to have a smooth ceiling then it is not a good idea to try and scrape it off as the process likely to cause excessive dust. The best course of action is to plaster over it. There are propriety products that can be obtained from your local DIY store or builders merchant that are designed for this situation.

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