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Where is asbestos found?

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Last Updated on 16 February 2022

where is asbestos found - roof sheets

An example of where asbestos can be found – old cement bonded asbestos roof sheets in a commercial building

Wondering where asbestos is found?

Up until around late 1999 when asbestos was banned in the UK, it was, and still is pretty much considered ubiquitous in the built environment. To give that some ‘numbers’, approximately 90% of all properties we survey as a practice are found to contain some form of asbestos product.

However, let’s start at the beginning…….

Asbestos is a mined silicate mineral that occurs in rocks. Formed by volcanic activity, the mineral occurs in veins like other more well known minerals such as quartz. Its not very often asbestos is seen in ‘raw form’ in the buildings we live and work in. This is why we generally use the phrase ‘asbestos containing material’ or ACM for short.

Asbestos has been added to in excess of 4000 products over the last 100 years, and these come in many forms. Some of these can be higher risk products such as pipe insulation or sprayed applications. Some can be low risk products such as where the asbestos is added to bitumen, adhesives and putty.

What type of buildings may contain asbestos?

What is important to remember is that asbestos (ACM’s) were used across all types of building stock from commercial to residential property. In the ‘commercial’ sector many more people are aware of the risk from asbestos, particularly during construction or building works, although the level of awareness is still not where it should be. However, in the residential or domestic setting, the levels of awareness are extremely low.

Before anyone undertakes work to your property (assuming it was built before 2000 when asbestos was banned) an appropriate asbestos survey should be conducted prior to the start of the work. This is a legal requirement to protect homeowners and the tradesmen who undertake such work. The tradesmen should also have completed asbestos awareness training.

All asbestos works are presided over by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. These outline how we can protect persons from being exposed to asbestos through the course of their work and every day activities. If you work in a building that contains asbestos, there is a legal duty to manage the material. This is known as an asbestos management plan.

Asbestos Can Lead To Occupational Asbestos Related Diseases

It’s also important to remember that asbestos is still the largest cause of occupational mortality in the UK. In simple terms, you are more likely to die from asbestos disease due to working, than any other reason. Exposure can come through the type of occupation (builders, tradesmen etc.) or from activities around you or from the building we occupy, where the material is not being managed properly.

Asbestosis is lung scarring due to continued asbestos exposure.  Mesothelioma is generally a terminal illness that can occur even with low levels of exposure. Currently the UK has one of the highest rates of Mesothelioma in the world when calculated ‘per head of population’.

Where is Asbestos Found in Old Buildings?

Asbestos can be found in/on or around the following materials in older homes and old buildings, both residential and commercial:-

  • Flooring materials
  • Wall panels
  • Fire proofing
  • Coatings
  • Insulation
  • Adhesives
  • Roofing products
  • Vinyls
  • Paper
  • Composites
  • Textiles


where is asbestos found - cement flue

Commercial Building – Old asbestos cement flue, cowl and textile rope seals to the joints

Indeed, the list of where asbestos is often found is not only very long, but it is still being added to as time passes. As you can see from this article, asbestos can be found in almost any part of a building, or indeed the land around it.

It is important to understand the law, conduct appropriate surveys and testing and get you and your staff trained. RB Asbestos have been doing this for thirty years across the UK. If you need advice it costs nothing. Contact us today…..

If you need asbestos advice in relation to any properties you own, maintain or control, then please contact us on  0800 141 2676, email us at info@rbasbestos.co.uk or fill in the form below.

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