Asbestos in the home. A guidance booklet for tenants. Please keep this document as a reference guide- It contains important safety information

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1 Asbestos in the home A guidance booklet for tenants Please keep this document as a reference guide- It contains important safety information

2 Introduction This guide is all about asbestos: what it is, its health effects, where it maybe in the home, and what you can do about it. Even if there is asbestos in your home, it is usually not a serious problem. Asbestos is not itself dangerous. Asbestos only becomes dangerous when it gets damaged or is disturbed during work on your home. When damaged, asbestos releases fibres that can cause serious lung disease. If Asbestos is effectively managed there is no cause for concern in any property. POLHA are committed to reducing the risk to the health of its employee s, tenants, contractors and the public from asbestos, if present, in its properties. Page 3- What is Asbestos? Page 3- When is Asbestos a problem? Page 3- What are the health risks involved? Page 3- How does Asbestos affect health? Page 3- Where is Asbestos found? Page 5- How can I identify products or materials containing Asbestos? Page 5- How does POLHA manage Asbestos in tenanted properties? Page 5- How will POLHA deal with Asbestos? Page 7- Things to remember about Asbestos. Page 9- Useful information Asbestos in the Home Page 2

3 What is Asbestos? Asbestos is a natural mineral, a fibrous silicate found in rocks all over the world. It has been used commercially for about 150 years because it is strong, flexible and stable with great thermal and insulating properties. The three types of asbestos commonly found in the UK are: crocidolite (blue asbestos); amosite (brown asbestos) and chrysotile (white asbestos). Asbestos can be used in consumer, industrial and building products, some of which where incorporated into buildings prior to might contain asbestos, don t work on it - get expert advice. When is Asbestos a problem? Asbestos fibres are present in the environment in the UK so everyone is exposed to low levels of asbestos at all times. When asbestos-containing materials are damaged or deteriorate with age, they can release tiny fibres into the air. Inhaling high levels of these fibres can cause asbestos related diseases to develop overtime. There is no way you can tell whether a material contains asbestos just by looking at it. You should treat any suspect material as if it DOES contain asbestos. Material that contains asbestos should be left alone if it is in good condition and is only a risk if it is damaged. What are the health risks involved? There are asbestos-containing materials in about 5.5 million buildings in the UK. Yet the risk to the public from asbestos in the home is low. The risk arises when asbestos is damaged or drilled, sawn, scrubbed or sanded. DIY work can result in brief but high levels of exposure. If you think a material How does Asbestos affect health? High exposure to asbestos related fibres can greater the risk of developing asbestos related lung disease. Lung cancer and mesothelioma (thickening of the lungs) are two common diseases which are almost always fatal. Where is Asbestos found? Building materials containing asbestos were widely used from 1930 to the mid-1980s. However houses and flats built or refurbished before the year 2000 may contain asbestos as it may still have been used. Identical properties may not contain the same materials. Asbestos in the Home Page 3

4 Different contractors may have used different materials at different times. Here are some of the Asbestos containing products that might be found in any home: External structure Roofing felt made with bitumen corrugated roofing sheets for sheds and garages Flat roof decking tiles modular tiles used as a walking surface to spread the load on flat roofs -Profiled metal sheeting coated with asbestos fibres in bitumen -Rainwater downpipes -Rainwater guttering Roof cladding numerous brands and types -Roof slates -Roof tiles Roofing sheets corrugated for sheds and garages Soil and vent pipes Wall cladding sheets (double) to early pre-fabs; both plain and decorative Wall cladding sheets (single) both plain and decorative Soffit boards horizontal board beneath the roof overhang. They bridge the gap between brickwork and fascia board with the guttering attached -Window cills (external) Internal structure Bath panels Sinks- Bituminous acoustic pad fitted beneath stainless steel sinks Chimney breasts cement panels used to form mock chimney breasts in timber-framed homes Cold water tanks in the loft space Decorative ceiling tiles Floor finish cushion floor sheet vinyl Floor tiles rigid vinyl Floor tiles thermoplastic vinyl Fire surrounds heat and fire proof Flue pipes to heating systems- Insulation of warm air heating systems Insulation to central heating systems Partition sheets or wallboard rarely used in domestic property Lagging to pipes and boilers Textured decorative finish to ceilings and occasionally walls. Artex -is a well known brand textured decorative paint Window cill black cast resin sheet from the manufacturer Eternit Other places where asbestos is found Coals and fake ash in early coal effect gas fires Coal bunker lid and slider panel to coal bunker Electric storage heaters up to 1976, used for the heat retention blocks Filler ropes surrounding oven doors and solid fuel fires Fire blankets in kitchens Ironing boards iron-rest heat pad -Portable heaters using LPG (liquid petroleum gas) -Plant containers -Oven gloves Simmering mats for the cooker Asbestos in the Home Page 4

5 How can I identify products or materials containing Asbestos? You cannot tell whether a product contains asbestos simply by looking at it. Often asbestos is masked by other materials or is dyed, which disguises its true colour. If in doubt, please get in touch with POLHA where the correct Asbestos processes can be put in place i.e. laboratory tests may be carried out. How does POLHA manage Asbestos in tenanted properties? Asbestos-containing materials will have to remain in social housing for some time yet. POLHA s approach is in line with government health and safety requirements and legislation. In order to gather information regarding asbestos in your home POLHA have commissioned a specialist contractor to carry out a survey. The survey is classed as a Non-invasive Management Survey by the Health and Safety Executive. Where we find asbestos, if it is a good condition it will be left so long as it will not be disturbed Properties will be reinspected on a annual basis. An Asbestos register will be created to log all details and tenants advised. How will POLHA deal with Asbestos? Type of risk If the type of asbestos, location or condition has a high risk i.e. is likely to be disturbed or is in a poor condition, POLHA will take immediate action to have the material removed in a safe manner. If the risks are low it may be more practical to remove the material as part of a larger maintenance plan on a number of homes at the same time Ensure it is sealed or leave it and regularly monitor its condition. Certain asbestos materials are used in the bare state, and Asbestos in the Home Page 5

6 sealing and bonding will reduce or stop the release of fibres, they may not need removed. Action 1- Remove immediately 2- Remove as part of a maintenance plan 3- Seal/Record and manage record and manage We maintain an Asbestos Register Database showing all survey results. We update it when appropriate. If you are planning home improvements or maintenance and think you have asbestos in your home, always ask our permission in the first instance so we can check our records and advise if any asbestos is present or arrange for a hazardous materials survey to be carried out. POLHA insists that all asbestos must be removed, sealed or repaired by contractors with a special licence issued by the Government. These licensed contractors have to follow strict regulations to ensure asbestos is safely handled. Carrying out any work to any form of asbestos without knowledge, expertise and the appropriate protection will put people s health at risk. Fly-tipping puts others at serious risk especially children. Your local refuse vehicle compresses and grinds up the waste, thereby putting the refuse collectors at risk. Also the standard domestic vacuum cleaner allows the very fine needle like asbestos fibres to pass straight through the machine to be spread all over the house, thereby endangering the whole family. Asbestos in the Home Page 6

7 A specialist contractor must always be used to successfully remove Asbestos Do not drill, saw scrub or sand anything you think may contain asbestos. Always wear a protective mask when carrying out DIY work. Please contact POLHA if Asbestos is suspected, so the appropriate Asbestos processes can be adopted. As your landlord, it is our responsibility to contain and or remove all damaged materials which may contain asbestos from your home. Do not try to remove or disturb items which you think may contain asbestos yourself. Please contact our repairs team on or Freephone Things to remember about Asbestos: Asbestos does not usually pose a risk unless it is damaged or disturbed. It is often best to leave asbestos containing products where they are if they are in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed. Try to make sure anything you own containing asbestos remains in good condition. Asbestos in the Home Page 7

8 Asbestos Information Centre Ltd Edinburgh City Council Useful information Business hours 8.45am to 5.00pm Monday-Thursday 8:45am to 3:45 Friday Helpline Fax Helpful Contacts for further info Health & Safety Executive Asbestos in the Home Page 8

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