What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of fibrous minerals found naturally in many parts of the world. In the past asbestos was added to a variety of building materials to strengthen them and to provide fireproofing, insulation and noise reduction. Its use was not finally banned in the United Kingdom until 1999, so if your home was built before this, it may contain some materials that are made from asbestos.
When does asbestos become a problem?
The Health and Safety Executive state that “Asbestos is not a risk if it is in good condition and is not disturbed”.
When asbestos becomes damaged, deteriorates, is disturbed or worked on, or is in a loose form it may release fibres into the air. Asbestos fibres can be harmful if they are inhaled. Breathing in fibres can lead to asbestos related diseases. People most likely to be affected are those who have worked with asbestos for many years as part of their job.
Where will you find asbestos products or materials in your home?
It is not always easy to tell whether a product contains asbestos as it is often mixed with other materials. The illustration shows the places where asbestos may be found in your home.
Here are a few examples of where asbestos may have been used:
• Corrugated cement based sheeting on sheds and garages
• Cement-based soffits, downpipes and gutters
• Fire surrounds and flues
• Toilet cisterns and seats
• Textured decorative coatings used on ceilings and walls (“Artex” or “Sandex”)
• Vinyl floor tiles and the bitumen adhesive used to glue them in place
• Ironing board mats
• Inside fuse boxes
• Fireproof panels on fire doors.
Asbestos – what to do and not to do
DO – Treat asbestos-containing materials with respect
DO – Contact us if you wish to undertake work or improvements to your home. We hold an Asbestos Register and therefore we are able to advise you whether you do have asbestos within your home, what type of asbestos it is and what precautions you need to take (if any).
DO – Take every precaution to avoid damaging identified asbestos-containing materials in your home.
DON’T panic if you think you have asbestos-containing materials in your home – it is only a problem if it is disturbed or gets damaged.
DON’T drill, sand, cut or in any way disturb an area you know to contain asbestos
DON’T remove any suspected asbestos-containing products or try to dispose of them yourself
DON’T sweep asbestos dust or debris as this sends asbestos fibres into the air
What is Falcon doing about asbestos?
Over the last few years, we have visited all our homes and schemes over a certain age to check if there is any asbestos present. If we have found any asbestos that the tenants should be aware of, we will have provided the tenants with information about any asbestos present.
As our properties become vacant, we make sure we assess the condition of any asbestos that we know to be present in the property. We then take the decision whether we remove it, encapsulate it or if it is in good condition, leave it.
When a property is inspected if it is suspected that any material contains asbestos then samples may be taken and analysed. Asbestos-containing material will be reviewed regularly. If the material is damaged or is a risk due to its location, then we will take immediate action to deal with it in a safe and appropriate way.
What are your responsibilities as a tenant?
Before you carry out any home improvements you must contact your Housing Officer and obtain written permission (see our tenant improvements page).
One of the reasons we ask you to do this is to ensure that if there is asbestos present that proper controls are put in place to reduce any exposure to you, your family and any other person that may be carrying out the work.
There are strict regulations relating to the removal and disposal of asbestos and if you carry out work without written permission you may be liable for any costs incurred. Please remember that under the terms of your tenancy agreement, changes to the structure or fabric of the property are not allowed to be carried out without prior written approval.
What should I do if I think there is asbestos in my home?
If you suspect that a material in your home contains asbestos, or if you think your home may contain damaged asbestos material, then please contact us immediately.
You can get more information about asbestos from The Health & Safety Executive: www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos