ARCA A-Grade Audit


At Merryhill, we pride ourselves on the way we plan projects and carry out asbestos removal whilst on-site.

In a recent audit by ARCA as part of the Site Audit Accreditation Scheme, Merryhill received an A-Grade with no non-conformances or recommendations whatsoever.

Our commitment to quality and health & safety best practice ensures that all projects, no matter how small are meticulously planned. This increased effort at the planning stage ensures that our site teams are well briefed and understand the expectations for each project BEFORE they arrive on-site.

We are in constant contact with our site-teams and encourage open communication. In doing so, any changes to the original plan can be discussed openly.

ARCA Site Audit Accreditation Scheme

We are very proud of our asbestos supervisors and operatives. By having a great team, we are able to work together more closely and for the better. We look forward to receiving more A-Grade audits in the future.

Types of Asbestos

Asbestos Fibres

What is asbestos? Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral from the silicate family. Although there are many different types of asbestos fibres, the three most commonly used in the UK were Crocidolite, Amosite and Chrysotile (blue, brown and white respectively).

Each with their own individual characteristics, the widespread use of asbestos became popular, predominately for its insulating properties in addition to providing additional strength to several common building materials.

Types of Asbestos Fibres


Known widely as ‘blue asbestos’ this fibre was voluntarily banned in the UK in 1970. Considered the most dangerous form of commercially used asbestos, Crocidolite fibres are shorty and spikey, meaning then tend to puncture the lining of the lungs causing long-lasting damage. Their spikey shape also mean they are more difficult to breathe out if inhaled.

Crocidolite is part of a family of minerals known as Amphiboles, of which Amosite is also a member. The Amphibole family also include Tremolite, Anthophyllite and Actinolite. These additional 3 minerals are also considered dangerous to humans, although they were used far less frequently due to them being much rarer.

Crocidolite was mainly used in the UK as a sprayed-on insulation, thermal insulation (pipe lagging), loose-fill insulation, asbestos-woven textiles (such as gaskets) and in cement sheeting. Due to its uses for spray / lagging applications and gaskets, Crocidolite was very common in the marine industry for use on ships.


Amosite asbestos is more commonly referred to as ‘brown asbestos’. Voluntarily banned from import into the UK in 1980, Amosite is considered another very dangerous form of asbestos.

Almost exclusively mined in South Africa, Amosite was given its name based on the acronym of the producer Asbestos Mines of South Africa. The technical name for Amosite is in fact Grunerite, however it is rarely referred to under this name.

Amosite is the most commonly found Amphibole type of asbestos. More course and stronger than Chrysotile fibres, Amosite was widely used in rigid boards such as asbestos insulation boards (AIB). Amosite can be found as the only asbestos ingredient in AIB, but is often used as part of mixture with Chrysotile.


Chrysotile is by far the most commonly found asbestos type, not just in the UK, but worldwide. Unlike Amosite and Crocidolite, Chrysotile is part of the Serpentine family of minerals and as such has different characteristics in terms of fibre shape. Chrysotile is made up from small curly fibres. This enables fibres to be breathed out more easily as they are less likely to become lodged in the lungs or other parts of the respiratory system.

Chrysotile is by far the most common of all types of asbestos, accounting for over 90% of all that used in building materials

Often referred to as ‘white asbestos’, over 90% of all commercially used asbestos was Chrysotile. Chrysotile was the last type of asbestos to be banned in the UK. Amosite and Crocidolite were officially banned in 1985 as part of the Asbestos (Prohibitions) Regulations. These regulations were updated in 1992 to include Chrysotile. Chrysotile was banned completely in the UK from 1999.

Although proven to be a cause of respiratory disease, Chrysotile does pose a smaller risk than other types of asbestos from the Amphibole family. Still mined today in several countries across the globe including India, Brazil, Russia and China, Chrysotile continues to be used in developing countries despite the now-known health risks.

Common Types of Asbestos Materials

  1. Loose fill asbestos insulation (used in lofts, floor voids and within partition walls)
  2. Sprayed coatings (known as limpet)
  3. Pipe lagging
  4. Insulating board (AIB)
  5. Ropes, yarns and cloths (primarily used in older fuse boxes and pipe gaskets, but also gloves and fire blankets)
  6. Paper (backing used for flooring applications)
  7. Bitumen felts and associated products
  8. Flooring materials (both sheet vinyl and thermoplastic tiles)
  9. Textured coatings and paints (often referred to as Artex)
  10. Mastic, sealants and putties (often used as a glazing bead and in very old wall plugs)
  11. Reinforced plastics (toilet seats and cisterns)

The above list is ordered from most to least dangerous. It should be noted that all types of asbestos have the potential to pose a risk if not handled or removed appropriately. The top 6 should only be removed or treated by a licensed asbestos removal contractor. Items 7-11 do not require a licensed contractor, however those looking at having such products removed should be competent and have sufficient training as highlighted by the HSE. If you are in any doubt about a material that is suspected or known to contain asbestos, get in contact and a member of our team will be more than happy to help.

Asbestos Land Remediation

Asbestos Land Remediation

Last month saw the announcement of the government’s long-awaited housing whitepaper. Among many proposals to increase the volume and quality of new housing stock in the UK, brownfield sites were a hot topic.

Unlocking previously developed sites is one of many proposals, but brownfield sites can have legacy issues in terms of contaminants, access restraints and objections from other residents and businesses.

Among the more common contaminants found on some brownfield sites is asbestos.

Commonly used for much of the 20th century, asbestos was used in many different building products due to its strength, resistance to heat and sound absorbing properties. After being fully banned in the UK in 1999 due to the now-known health impacts, there are still many buildings constructed before this date that still contain asbestos.

The importance of asbestos surveys & analysis

If buildings are to be demolished, then a survey must be carried out to identify the presence of asbestos containing materials (ACMs). Those that are identified can be removed safely prior to demolition and site preparation.

Some older sites may have asbestos and other contaminants in the ground beneath the building or in surrounding land. This can be an issue that needs resolving prior to any new developments taking place.

Due to inadequate demolition and waste management practices in the past, many brownfield sites across the UK may be contaminated with asbestos. Historical records may be available for how a site has been used in the past. From these records, it can often be determined if ground surveys are also required, prior to any excavation taking place.

Potential asbestos land scenario

This scenario is hypothetical, but could be used by developers to determine the possibility of asbestos materials being present on a brownfield site.

A large, former industrial building has been empty for a number of years and the site is to be redeveloped. The building was originally constructed in the 1960s and been extended over the years with the most recent addition in the late 1980s.

Upon looking at historical records before the site was originally built, the land was used for agricultural purposes with a house and a number of large outbuildings. Managing and disposing of waste, including hazardous materials in the 1960s was not as it is today.

With that information in mind, the likelihood of the original buildings containing asbestos and not being disposed of in a safe manner would be considered high. In this case, it would be prudent to have ground surveys taken to rule out the possibility of asbestos contamination.

Carrying Out Land Asbestos Land Remediation

Asbestos land remediation can be complex, depending on the volume of material identified. Typical materials within such sites include asbestos floor tiles, asbestos cement, asbestos ropes and gaskets, asbestos insulation and asbestos insulating board.

Segregation of ACMs can be a challenging task, especially on large sites. Where possible, asbestos fragments are segregated from the affected soil. This method of remediation is suitable if the fibre‑count in the host soil is low. Waste soil containing >0.1% w/w asbestos is classified as hazardous waste. This ‘litter picking’ method is ideal for limiting the amount of contaminated soil that needs to be sent to landfill.

If the asbestos found in the host soil is of a fibrous nature such as lagging or loose-fill insulation debris, then the safest method would be to have the soils disposed of as contaminated waste and replaced with an inert and clean alternative.

The costs of this can be considerable so careful planning prior to development are crucial.

Asbestos contamination within the soil does not pose a huge threat, so long as it remains in situ, is capped correctly and there is no risk of fibres becoming airborne.

Whilst removing asbestos from soil, appropriate measures are taken to mitigate the spread of loose fibres. This is done by controlled wetting to prevent further spread. Fragments of suspect materials are immediately bagged safely, prior to disposal.

Site Clearance Pre-Construction

Whilst land remediation is taking place, air monitoring is usually carried out to ensure control limits are not breached. Once a site has been cleared, it is then thoroughly tested and certified prior to construction work commencing.

In a time when the availability of land is scarce, improving our inner cities and making better use of disused buildings can potentially unlock precious under-utilised space. By using modern technology to confirm the presence of contaminants, remediation can provide a much-needed incentive to developers to increase the supply of housing stock.

Merryhill offer a complete solution to asbestos contaminated soil from initial sample taking and analysis to providing the necessary personnel and equipment to carry out large-scale remediation projects.

The A-Z of Asbestos

Given the complex nature of asbestos removals, we have put together an A-Z of common terms. Although this list doesn’t cover everything, it offers an insight into some of the of the common terms used when talking about asbestos.

Asbestos Glossary

Asbestos Glossary

Asbestos Containing Material. This can be a product or material containing any amount or percentage of asbestos by volume. ACMs come in many different forms and contain varying levels of asbestos fibres.


Approved Code of Practice, a document giving practical guidance on compliance. ACOP L143, ‘Managing and working with asbestos’, specifically relates to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.


Asbestos Insulating Board. Used primarily for fire protection, thermal insulation, partitioning and ducts (plenums).

Airborne Fibre Count Certificates

Issued following airborne monitoring for a variety of purposes such as reassurance testing, asbestos work leak testing and personal testing. See also Certificate of Reoccupation.


Technical name for ‘brown’ asbestos.


This is the form issued by a licensed contractor to the HSE to notify works relating to asbestos treatment or removal.


The fibrous form of the mineral silicates belonging to any one or a combination of the serpentine and amphibole groups of rock-forming minerals, including actinolite, amosite (brown asbestos), anthophyllite, crocidolite (blue asbestos), chrysotile (white asbestos) or tremolite.

Asbestos Cement

A hard product that contains approximately 10-15% asbestos fibres which can be any of the three main types. Examples of common applications are roof sheets, wall cladding and rain water goods such as soil pipes and guttering. This is a relatively low risk material provided it remains intact as the fibres are bonded within the cement matrix.

Asbestos Register

A schedule of all identified items containing or presumed to contain asbestos, including location / condition, and areas that were not accessible during the survey. The Asbestos Register should be consulted for all work which may disturb the fabric of the building, or involve the building services. Such work includes simple & short duration work such as drilling a single hole or attaching items to walls.

Asbestos Regulations

Regulations made under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 which control management of and work with ACMs, their removal and disposal together with the responsibilities of employers, managers, employees, contractors, visitors and designers.

Asbestos Waste

Waste containing asbestos is normally deemed as being hazardous waste and stringent regulations apply for carriage on the highways and its disposal. Enforced by the Environmental Agency, a license is required for transporting asbestos on the public highway.

Asbestos Working Enclosure

When carrying out asbestos removal works, the requirement of an enclosure to be built is often required in order to prevent the spread of asbestos fibres. Typically constructed using a 1000 gauge polythene skin, asbestos enclosures are constructed to contain any asbestos fibres which may be released as a result of any removal works being carried out.

Bag Lock

Wherever possible, a bag lock is used in addition to a 3 stage airlock for operatives to transit and decontaminate upon exiting an asbestos enclosure. The bag lock is a temporary storage area for storing bagged contaminated waste prior to transiting to a suitable vehicle or asbestos skip.

Bulk Sample

A sample of material such as boarding, insulation or debris taken by an accredited surveyor to be tested for asbestos fibre content / type by an accredited laboratory.

Blue Asbestos

See ‘Crocidolite’ below.

Brown Asbestos

See ‘Amosite’ above.


The Control of Asbestos Regulations, enacted in 2012.

Certificate of Reoccupation

Issued after asbestos work, following a satisfactory inspection and testing procedure and prior to normal reoccupation being resumed. Has statutory significance and can only be issued by a UKAS accredited organisation.


Technical name for ‘white’ asbestos fibres.

Control Measure

Something that will reduce the risk posed by a hazard.


Technical name for ‘blue’ asbestos fibres.

De-Contamination Unit DCU

A DCU is used in order for operatives to decontaminate upon leaving an asbestos enclosure. Wherever possible, this should be a direct connection to the 3 stage airlock of the asbestos enclosure. If not possible, then an appropriate route should be marked out for operatives to use between the airlock and DCU.


a person holding or sharing asbestos management responsibilities when they have some form of responsibility or control over ‘maintenance’ activities within a non-domestic building.


Health and Safety Executive. The enforcement of Health and Safety is principally split between two authorities – the Health and Safety Executive cover more specialist areas e.g. universities, and normally those buildings not accessible to the general public. Local authorities cover the more small to medium sized service and retail businesses e.g. hotels, shops and offices.

HSG264 Asbestos: The Survey Guide

This is guidance issued by the HSE to ensure proper practice and conformity in the surveying and reporting of ACMs.

L143 Managing and Working with Asbestos

contains the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the Approved Code of Practice and guidance text for employers about work which disturbs, or is likely to disturb, asbestos, asbestos sampling and laboratory analysis.

Licensable Work (with Asbestos)

Asbestos Licensing is a “permissioning regime”. Permissioning regimes such as asbestos licensing are only considered where the work activities involve significant hazard, risk or public concern. Asbestos is classified as a category 1 carcinogen, with asbestos related disease causing around 4500 deaths every year in the UK. Work with asbestos requires a high degree of regulatory control and the purpose of licensing is to achieve this.

Management Survey (previously known as a Type 2 Survey)

the standard survey required for the Asbestos Register. Locates, as far as reasonably practicable, asbestos materials that could be disturbed or damaged during normal occupancy of the building. Will often involve minor intrusive work and sampling of materials for subsequent analysis in a laboratory. The survey does not detect asbestos concealed or ‘hidden’ within a building and in the first instance, should not be considered as a suitable assessment for undertaking building works.

Method Statement

The method by which the Licensed Removal Contractor will treat or remove and dispose of ACMs.

Negative Pressure Unit (NPU)

A negative pressure unit is used to draw fresh air into an asbestos working enclosure. The provision of adequate ventilation is paramount to the safety of the operatives working within an asbestos enclosure. A NPU (or series of NPUs) should be used to ensure a minimum of 8 air changes per hour and provide a negative differential pressure (ΔP) of -5Pa between the enclosure and atmosphere. In order to stop asbestos fibres from exhausting from an enclosure, all NPUs are fitted with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. The filters are changed daily. A visual inspection can be carried out on-site by viewing the door flaps at the entrance to the asbestos enclosure. In order to have the correct ventilation, there should be 200-250mm deflection in the door flap.

Notification Period

Where asbestos work is deemed as ‘licensable work with asbestos’ i.e. work requiring a licensed issued by the HSE. It is a condition of the license for contractors to formally notify the appropriate enforcing authority at least 14 days before each job. Notification is done via the ASB5 form. Suitable and sufficient plans of work are a license condition for any licensable work with asbestos, and a legal requirement. It is therefore imperative that adequate / realistic timescales are considered early in the project planning stage.

Plan of Works

The plan by which a Licensed Asbestos Removal contractor will set out the transit routes, location of skip, enclosure, location of Negative Pressure Unit etc.


Personal Protective Equipment such as overalls, masks, gloves etc.

Project Manager

Any person instructing or supervising work within University controlled buildings e.g. Estate Management, Maintenance Managers, Departmental Heads or representatives. Project management entails important responsibilities for asbestos.

Project management

The planning, monitoring and control of all aspects of a project and the motivation of all those involved in it, to achieve the project objectives on time and to the specified cost, quality.

Refurbishment and Demolition Survey (previously known as a Type 3 Survey)

The purpose of these surveys is to identify all ACMs so that they can be removed prior to refurbishment or demolition. Utilises invasive inspection techniques and is normally disruptive e.g. access into voids, lifting floorboards and investigating back to the structure where possible. Should detect hidden and concealed materials. Required to be carried out in the areas where projects, major works, refurbishment, demolition and maintenance work of an invasive nature are being carried out.


Respiratory Protective Equipment such as either a full or half face mask.

Visual Inspection

An inspection of the enclosure / work area by the Analyst to see if all the ACMs specified have been satisfactorily remediated prior to carrying out an Airborne Fibre Count within the affected area.


United Kingdom Accreditation Service. This is the sole national accreditation body recognised by government to assess, against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. Accreditation by UKAS demonstrates competence, impartiality and performance capabilities.

White Asbestos

See Chrysotile above.

What Does Asbestos Look Like?

What does asbestos look like?

What does asbestos look like – is a question often asked by homeowners and building contractors.

Unfortunately, this question is not as straightforward as it sounds. Asbestos can take many different forms. Over the course of the 20th century (and even before then), asbestos was used as a common ingredient in a number of different building materials.

Why was asbestos used?

Asbestos is a mineral that is relatively simple to extract and available in large quantities. This meant is was inexpensive to produce and manufacturers across the world used it in a number of different forms. Asbestos was used because of a number of beneficial properties:

  • An excellent insulation material, both for acoustic and thermal properties
  • Very strong material when mixed with other ingredients such as cement or plastics
  • Almost completely resistant to fire
  • Can withstand chemical attack
  • Very resistant to harsh weather conditions

Prior to the now-known health implications of using asbestos, its use was widespread. It was used to such an extent, that the legacy left behind is thought to take decades to completely remove.

Things to look for when identifying asbestos

Materials containing asbestos were used in commercial buildings, domestic properties and outbuildings. Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) can be found both inside and on the outside of buildings, with some being more easy to identify than others.

It should be pointed out that although asbestos can be presumed from a visual inspection, its presence can only be confirmed by taking a sample and having it analysed in a laboratory

Asbestos ceased to be used in the UK from 1999. In theory, any building built before this time has the possibility to contain some form of asbestos.

This guide seeks to help people in identifying common asbestos containing materials across the following widely used products, cement, insulation board, plastics, vinyls and resins, textured coatings, sprayed coatings, pipe insulation and loose-fill insulation.

Asbestos Insulation Board (AIB) products

AIB was commonly used in walls, building façades, ceilings, fascias & soffits, fire-proofing, lift shafts and external cladding. AIB is very fibrous when disturbed and can only be removed by a licensed asbestos removal contractor.

AIB was commonly used within internal partitioning in commercial buildings. This is sometimes difficult to visually identify without an intrusive analysis. As such, specialist sampling techniques carried out by qualified surveyors should be used if it is suspected to be present. Another use for AIB was to box in pipes and other heating-related services. AIB can often be found in kitchens, bathrooms and for lining risers penetrating several floors in high-rise buildings. When used as a boxing, it is often difficult to identify visually as often the material has been coated with paint or clad with tiles. AIB was also often used as a wall cladding material, either mechanically fixed or bonded using adhesive.

Asbestos Insulating Board
Asbestos Insulating Board

Ceiling tiles were another product that were often manufactured from AIB. There were a number of different types, however, the most commonly used can be seen below. Sampling and analysis in a laboratory is the only way to determine the presence of asbestos. AIB can also be found as a ceiling finish in standalone and integral garages.

AIB Ceiling Tiles
AIB Ceiling Tiles

AIB fascia and soffit panels were also widely used, especially in local-authority properties built in the 1960s and 1970s. Like AIB used indoors, it is difficult to visually identify and is often mistaken for cement-based products and other non-asbestos materials.

AIB Soffit on Bungalow
AIB Soffit on Bungalow

Façades in older commercial buildings often contained AIB in the form of insulated panels above and / or below glazing units. The AIB was usually found within the panel, sandwiched between an external, often coloured metal cladding and an internal finish. These panels were often used in the construction of schools and other public buildings between the 1950s and 1970s.

AIB Under Window Panels
AIB Under Window Panels

Known for its heat-resisting properties, AIB was often used in fire-breaks, including walls and doors, and for protection of structural steel columns. Older fire doors often contained an AIB panel within the leaf and the material was also used as a header to fill the void between the top of the door frame and the ceiling.

Common asbestos cement types

Cement-based products often contained asbestos to improve strength and durability. As such, they were widely used for a number of years and due to the product longevity, can be widely found today. Products include roofing sheets, cladding panels, roof tiles, promenade tiles, fascias & soffits, flues & drainage products and undercloaking. Asbestos cement is a lower-risk product than AIB and does not require a licensed contractor to facilitate removals, however sufficient precautions and training should be in place prior to any disturbance.

The strength of asbestos cement meant it is more commonly found externally, particularly in roofing applications.

One of the most visually identifiable asbestos products is corrugated cement roofing sheets. These were traditionally used in a number of applications including garages, sheds and commercial buildings. Over time these may have been replaced with non-asbestos alternatives, but if they look particularly old then they could be presumed to contain asbestos. Other roofing applications for asbestos include fascias, soffits and undercloaking. All of these were commonly used, however spotting their presence from the ground is often difficult, except in the case of bungalows. If cement-based products are presumed to be present, then samples will need to be taken to positively identify asbestos fibres.

Asbestos Corrugated Cement Roof
Asbestos Corrugated Cement Roof

Pre-cast asbestos cement products include flues, downpipes and gutters. These are usually easy to spot and visually identified. Older boilers in both domestic and commercial applications often had asbestos flues so this type of product can be found in many different places.

Asbestos Cement Flue Pipe
Asbestos Cement Flue Pipe

Asbestos used in vinyls, resins and composites

Because of the added strength, asbestos was once widely used in flooring applications. The two main types of flooring were vinyl tiles and sheet-laid vinyl. Vinyl tiles, often referred to as thermoplastic tiles were used since the end of the second world war until the 1980s. Often hidden beneath other flooring layers, asbestos tiles were commonly used as a builders finish, prior to more decorative finishes being placed over the top. Vinyl tiles were available in a number of different colours and often arranged in patterns if being used as the finished surface.

Asbestos Floor Tiles
Asbestos Floor Tiles

Some tiles which look similar did not contain asbestos, however a large proportion of them did contain small amounts of asbestos. Due to the nature of the bonding process, the chance of fibre release is relatively low.

Older sheet vinyl was also made with asbestos used as a backing material. This was mostly used as a decorative finish over a similar period to that of asbestos vinyl tiles. Another type of bonded asbestos was that of resins. These were typically found in toilet seats, cisterns and commonly used as window sills.

Asbestos textured coatings (Artex)

Textured coatings containing asbestos were used from the 1960s until the 1980s. Mostly applied to ceilings, the coating was also used to cover walls. A well-known brand of textured coating that did contain asbestos was Artex. This type of finish is often referred to as artex, even if it wasn’t made by that particular manufacturer. The patterns used for textured coatings vary, but popular choices included swirls, bark and circles. Asbestos was used to strengthen the mixture, allowing it to adhere better.

Asbestos Textured Coating (Artex)
Asbestos Textured Coating (Artex)

What do asbestos sprayed coatings look like?

Sprayed coatings are not often found in domestic properties. The coating was used as fire-proofing, often applied to steel beams, in between floors, (usually to the underside) and to the underside of roofs. One of the most dangerous forms of asbestos containing material, sprayed coatings contain as much as 85% asbestos fibres and is highly susceptible to damage. If disturbed, it would release large quantities of fibres into the air. The spraying process was often messy and as a result, debris is often found in close proximity.

Asbestos Sprayed Coatings
Asbestos Sprayed Coatings

The image above show what the finish typically looks like. If you suspect a sprayed asbestos coating is present, then do not damage the surface. It is advised that a sample is taken and sent for analysis, but this must be done under controlled conditions by a suitably trained surveyor.

What does asbestos pipe insulation look like?

Asbestos was used to insulate hot water pipes, both in commercial and domestic properties. The insulation was coated to the outside of pipes and often wrapped in a protective coating or painted, making it difficult to identify at first glance. Similar to sprayed coatings, it releases fibres very easily if disturbed and should not be damaged if suspected.

Asbestos Pipe Insulation
Asbestos Pipe Insulation

What does asbestos loose insulation look like?

Asbestos loose fill insulation is the most dangerous form and if uncovered should not be disturbed under any circumstances. Made from 100% asbestos fibres, it becomes airborne very easily, even after minor disturbance. The material was used to insulate floors, lofts and wall cavities in both domestic and commercial buildings. The material was also used in the ship-building industry. This form of insulation is often a blue-grey or white in colour. Its appearance is similar to candy floss.

Asbestos Loose Fill Insulation in Loft
Asbestos Loose Fill Insulation in Loft

Asbestos Analysis

The only definitive way to determine if asbestos is present, is to take a sample and have it analysed in an accredited laboratory. Taking a sample should only be done by a suitably qualified person in order to mitigate potential fibre release. Merryhill is able to take samples and have them analysed on your behalf at an independent third party laboratory. Merryhill can also provide advice and consultancy, helping you manage any materials present and maintain your asbestos register. Get in contact for more details.

Asbestos in the Home & How to Deal With It

Asbestos in the Home

Asbestos in the home is not usually a problem, so long as it it left undisturbed. If you require major cosmetic or structural changes, then removing or treating asbestos is likely. There are a number of options available to homeowners if this is the case.  This guide provides some useful information to help people make the best decision for their own situation.

Don’t Panic – Asbestos in the home can be dealt with safely

If you believe you have asbestos in your home…then don’t panic! You may not need to do anything, depending on the condition and type of asbestos containing material (ACM). Simply being aware of the asbestos may be the only thing you need to know.

Asbestos is only dangerous if it becomes damaged, causing fibres to be released into the air. The best way to stay safe, is to make sure any asbestos materials are kept in good condition and not disturbed. Obviously if you want to work on or near the asbestos, then you may need some assistance or seek further advice from a specialist company. Certain types of ACM are more dangerous than others, some requiring removal by a licensed asbestos contractor. Merryhill offers some information about asbestos, however for more detail, visit the HSE. The HSE governs all work relating to asbestos.

Are you sure it’s asbestos?

Are you sure it is asbestos? Believing you have asbestos in your home…and there actually being asbestos present are two different things. How can you tell?

In order to identify asbestos fibres, a sample must be taken by a suitably trained person and analysed in an accredited laboratory.

There are lots of companies and individuals that carry out asbestos surveys and sampling. Look for organisations with a UKAS accreditation. This means a company is independently audited regularly to ensure best practice. After samples have been tested, you will receive a report highlighting positive results. Each positive result will have a score showing the how risky a material is at the point of sampling.

So, you’ve had samples taken and some of them return a positive result. Don’t panic! If an ACM is in good condition, it poses little or no harm.

You are not alone.  It is estimated that half of all residential properties in the UK contain some form of asbestos. With this in mind, the problem is quite common and frequently encountered by people in the UK.

Common types of asbestos in domestic homes?

Some types of asbestos are more common than others in domestic properties. The more dangerous forms of asbestos are more common in commercial buildings. The most common types of asbestos found in houses and flats can be seen below. For a more in-depth look at the different types and their level of danger, view this guide.

  • Artex (or other textured coatings)
  • Asbestos garages and sheds
  • Asbestos Insulating board (AIB)
  • Storage heaters
  • Warm air heating systems
  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Bitumen products including adhesive, damp-proof courses and sink pads
  • Fascias and soffits
  • Pre-cast cement products (soil pipes, boiler flues, guttering)

Remove asbestos or have it treated?

If you need to work in an area that contains asbestos, you should take appropriate precautions. Seeking the correct advice will enable you to make an informed decision about what to do next. Will the asbestos remain in situ? If this is the case, then treatment could be an option.

What is asbestos treatment? Treatment usually takes the form of having materials containing asbestos ‘encapsulated’. An example of encapsulation might be having an insulating board painted with ET150 or equivalent. There are many different types of asbestos encapsulation methods. Some methods are more complicated than others and should only be carried out by trained people.

It is possible to work on a material known to contain asbestos, but only under extreme caution. Remember, asbestos is a highly dangerous substance if disturbed or damaged. Minor works like drilling holes, repainting a ceiling or over-boarding a textured coating can be carried out if you appropriately trained, but extreme care should always be taken. Minor work such as these (and others) are classified as non-licensed work.

For peace of mind, or for large-scale works, then removal is always the best option. To completely eliminate any future risk, it is always advised that you have asbestos fully removed.

Merryhill can provide advice on the safest methods for dealing with asbestos in the home. If you are in any doubt concerning asbestos in your house or flat, contact us today for advice.

Asbestos Information Centre Feature

Asbestos Information Centre Feature

Merryhill Envirotec is pleased to announce that we have gained the honour of being featured on the Asbestos Information Centre (AIC) website. This highly respected site is an excellent source of all information relating to asbestos, including asbestos identification, asbestos removal and asbestos training.

The information contained on the AIC website was originally written by renowned asbestos expert Tony Hutchinson. The AIC provides a free resource to building owners, contractors and householders about the dangers of asbestos, how to identify different types of material and contains information about asbestos regulations.

Andrew Dart, Operations Director at Merryhill Envirotec said: “We are delighted to now be featured on the AIC website as an asbestos removal contractor. Our commitment to best-practice and an our mission to be the safest asbestos contractor in the UK is highlighted by the new relationship, further reinforcing Merryhill’s dedication to the promotion of high industry standards.”

The AIC website is managed by High Speed Training, an IATP approved Asbestos Awareness training provider. The link below will take you to our new feature on the AIC site:

Merryhill Envirotec on the Asbestos Information Centre