How to Identify Asbestos28th July 2017
Asbestos is an abundant mineral that is fairly simple to extract, making its widespread production relatively inexpensive. Asbestos is strong, fire resistant, weather resistant and an excellent insulator, and became a prevalent option amongst manufacturers all over the world.
Unfortunately, however, we now know asbestos carries with it devastating health implications – namely, various forms of cancer and asbestosis – making the buildings in which it has been installed all high-risk areas.
If found, asbestos should be removed, but first it must be identified. In order to help with this, in this article, we will explain each stage of the identification process.
Identify the age of the building
The first stage of the identification process is fairly simple: work out the exact year in which the property was built. Although the building may look old, there is a chance that it was simply poorly maintained. So, in order to determine whether the building in question may or may not contain asbestos, you must find out if the building was constructed before 1999, as this was the year that asbestos and related products were officially banned in the UK.
However, it should be noted here that building materials containing asbestos may have been stockpiled or recycled before the ban. As a result, such materials could have found their way into the construction of buildings after the ban was in place. With this in mind, be very cautious of buildings constructed around the date above; it’s always better to assume the worst when it comes to asbestos.
Identify which materials were used
The next thing to do is to consider what the building is comprised of. Materials such as timber and steel are not likely pose much of an asbestos threat, cement, on the other hand, is a high-risk material and could certainly contain asbestos.
Moreover, it’s worth looking at areas of the building which might be exposed to water such as bathrooms, pipes and roofs. Thanks to asbestos’ weatherproof properties, it’s likely that asbestos tiles and lining could have been used in those particular areas.
Preparing for asbestos
When attempting to identify asbestos, it’s essential that you are properly protected if you feel you may come into contact with it. This means making sure that you are equipped with items such as safety goggles, protective masks, respirators, gloves and protective suits. Although all of these items might not be necessary, it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to asbestos.
Sampling & Analysis
Once properly prepared, the final stage of asbestos identification can begin: sampling and analysis. Asbestos is a loose grey material, and can be found wrapped around pipes and roof corrugation. Once found, it should be quickly sealed in a container. Upon collection, the asbestos sample must be analysed rigorously in a lab. There are many labs in the UK which can identify asbestos, such a task should not be undertaken by a person who is not sufficiently trained.
Call in the professionals
If there is any stage of the identification process which seems confusing or particularly daunting, don’t hesitate to call on professional assistance. The identification and subsequent removal process can be long and dangerous, and should not be undertaken lightly.
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