What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural occurring fibrous mineral that is classified as extremely toxic due to the carcinogenic properties of the mineral. Historically, the material has been commonly used in construction and other industries due to its durability and its resistance to heat, electricity, and corrosion making it an effective insulator.

Although the use of all asbestos has been prohibited in the UK since 1999 due to the severe health risks associated with the mineral, up to 70% of pre-2000 properties in the UK are believed to still contain asbestos.

While the risk of asbestos in situ can be minimal, where materials containing the mineral are disturbed or damaged, such as by removal, sanding, or drilling, the fibres are released into the air which if then inhaled can cause serious and possibly fatal damage.

A home survey by one of our surveyors can help protect you from the risks associated with asbestos, as our team are trained to recognise materials that could contain asbestos throughout a property.

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The main types of asbestos found within homes are:
  • Chrysotile (white asbestos)
  • Crocidolite (blue asbestos)
  • Amosite (brown asbestos)

Prior to the ban asbestos was widely used in construction and building materials such as insulation, floor tiles, roof shingles, cement sheets, and even within decorative features such as textured wallpaper or plaster.

Health risks

Asbestos is a highly carcinogenic substance and, if inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibres can become trapped in the body leading to severe inflammation, tissue scarring and damage. While the effects of this may not be felt immediately, symptoms can develop over time and, when finally diagnosed, any resulting diseases are often too late in their development to be treated.

Mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and diffuse pleural thickening are four of the main diseases associated with asbestos.

Our team of qualified surveyors are trained to identify and alert you to any instances of suspected asbestos within your home or potential purchase to help protect you and your family.

How to treat asbestos

If asbestos is identified at your property, it is essential that you do not attempt to remove it yourself. Due to the health risks the mineral poses, the removal of asbestos is strictly controlled. Asbestos requires a licensed specialist contractor to correctly ascertain the type and risk in order to provide accurate health and safety advice.

Once the risk is determined through a specialist asbestos survey, further work to remove the affected materials may be recommended, especially if you are planning on upgrading or renovating the affected area.

However, as asbestos presents minimal risk when left undisturbed and specialist removal can be costly, if no work is planned for the affected area of the property, it may be acceptable to leave untreated under the parameters that you remain cautious and avoid these areas of the property for any future home renovations.

Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases you are likely to ever make, so don’t take the risk of buying one with hidden defects.

Book a home survey with SDL Surveying and we’ll help highlight if there are any issues with the property that may not be immediately obvious when viewing a property.

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