Why manage asbestos?
Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related diseases, mainly cancers of the lungs and chest lining. Asbestos is only a risk to health if asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in. Past exposure to asbestos currently kills around 4500 people a year in Great Britain. Workers who carry out building maintenance and repair are particularly at risk.
There is usually a long delay between first exposure to asbestos and the onset of disease. This can vary from 15 to 60 years. Only by preventing or minimising these exposures now can asbestos-related disease eventually be reduced.
It is now illegal to use asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of any premises, but many thousands of tonnes of it were used in the past and much of it is still in place. There are three main types of asbestos that can still be found in premises, commonly called ‘blue asbestos’ (crocidolite), ‘brown asbestos’ (amosite) and ‘white asbestos’ (chrysotile). All of them are dangerous carcinogens, but blue and brown asbestos are more hazardous than white. Despite their names, you cannot identify them just by their colour.
Any buildings built or refurbished before the year 2000 may contain asbestos. As long as the asbestos-containing material (ACM) is in good condition, and is not being or going to be disturbed or damaged, there is negligible risk. But if it is disturbed or damaged, it can become a danger to health, because people may breathe in any asbestos fibres released into the air.
A number of information and guidance documents have been created and these outline the council’s approach towards the effective management of the risks outlined above. Use these links to find out more about the asbestos register, the training requirements and the ongoing work to maintain asbestos in good condition until it is safely removed.
Advice on asbestos registers and surveys can be obtained from Gillian Aitken, Techncian (Asbestos) on 01698 302323