Asbestos is a highly carcinogenic building material that was prevalently used across the UK prior to 1999, when it was eventually banned. Whilst you won’t find it in any buildings built after the turn of the millennium, there’s a good chance it may exist in commercial and residential constructions built prior to the implementation of the UK Asbestos Regulations.
Due to the carcinogenic nature of exposed asbestos, many property owners are forced to remove and dispose of the material, but it’s not quite as simple as just removing the material. The UK government set out the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR) which outlines how to remove asbestos and who can do it.
Who Can Remove Asbestos?
The law states that a homeowner can remove a non licensed asbestos product as long as a licensed waste carrier handles the disposal at a correct waste transfer station. Asbestos removed by a licensed asbestos removal company (LARC) will be disposed of as hazardous waste. Removals are defined as licensed or non-licensed depending on its surveyed classifications. There are a handful of exceptions where non-licensed professionals may remove asbestos, but this pertains to a small percentage of works where asbestos items are intact, undamaged and remaining in good condition where fibers are not exposed.
Property owners are required by law to manage existing asbestos safely.
For the safe removal of asbestos, you should always contact a LARC. DDS Environmental carries out asbestos removal. As a licensed contractor, we are fully qualified to safely remove asbestos in an environmentally friendly and healthcare conscious way.
Why Can’t I Remove Asbestos Myself?
The reason you should never try to remove asbestos yourself is because it is a highly carcinogenic material. When left undisturbed, asbestos is generally safe and doesn’t pose an immediate health risk, but when you disturb it or try to remove it, exposure to asbestos, including chrysotile, can cause several types of cancer, including in the lungs, larynx, and ovaries. It may also cause mesothelioma which is a cancer that specifically affects the pleural and peritoneal linings. Asbestos exposure can be responsible for other diseases as well as cancer, including asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs), plaques, and thickening and effusion in the pleura.
When you hire DDS Environmental or any other licensed contractor, the removal process will be undertaken in accordance with CAR2012, ensuring the safety of everyone involved and minimising potentially harmful exposure. If you try to remove asbestos without the proper training, you risk exposing yourself and others to potentially fatal fibres which can cause serious health problems if inhaled.
How is Asbestos Removed?
The way in which asbestos is removed depends largely on the type of asbestos, where it is located, and its condition. The first step in all instances is to wear appropriate PPE and RPE. This means powered or non-powered respirators must be worn depending on the type and removal process, as well as coveralls. Asbestos should never be touched with bare hands – protective gloves must be worn at all times.
Depending on the type of asbestos and its condition, polythene sheeting or enclosures may need to be put up in order to prevent fibres from escaping the immediate vicinity. Negative pressure units and H-type vacuums usually need to be utilised to prevent any loose fibres from circulating.
Materials containing asbestos are then sprayed with surfactant (fiber suppressant) to control and prevent the spread of fibres. When adequately soaked, it is less likely that fibres become airborne. Our main priority is to always remove asbestos as intact as possible. This reduces the risk of fibres being released.
When the asbestos is removed, it then needs to be disposed of correctly as hazardous waste. All large asbestos sheets and materials should be wrapped twice in polythene, and smaller debris needs to be put into a designated asbestos waste bag. Both sheets and bags need to be clearly labelled. All PPE is to be disposed of in the same way as the asbestos itself as it may have fibres on it. This is because any type of waste with more than 0.1% asbestos on it is considered hazardous, so it must be treated as such.
During the removal process, all asbestos waste must be stored in a sealed, lockable container. All asbestos waste – in a skip or a bag – must be transported by licensed waste carriers. Asbestos cannot be taken to regular landfill sites. A site that takes asbestos waste must have a PPC (pollution prevent and control) permit, or they must have a waste management license. In some cases, non-hazardous waste landfill sites can accept asbestos, but it will be required to be contained in a self-contained cell.
Where Can Asbestos be Found?
Asbestos was widely used until the 1990’s because it added strength and fire retardancy to buildings. This means it can commonly be found in everything, from cement and paint to tiles and appliances. You can even find asbestos in appliances like ovens. Anything that contains asbestos needs to be disposed of in a controlled way as listed above. From a small asbestos floor tile to large pipework and thermal insulation removal, always contact a professional Licensed Asbestos Removal Contractor.
Book Asbestos Removal
If you’re based in the south east of England or Greater London, DDS Environmental can carry out asbestos removal for you. DDS Environmental also provides asbestos surveys and offers asbestos management advice. If in doubt of any suspect materials, never attempt to remove or repair without contacting a LARC. DDS-Environmental can assist not only in asbestos removal, but in management surveys, R&D surveys, and asbestos sampling. For more information, please contact us.