Asbestos in domestic properties

Find out what to do if you think a domestic property has asbestos.

What's asbestos? 

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fibrous mineral which is fire-resistant, strong, resilient and insoluble. These properties made it very useful for fire protection and insulation in buildings in Great Britain from 1950 to the mid-1980s. It may be still in place in many older buildings.

Asbestos only becomes dangerous if asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are disturbed, damaged or deteriorate with age as this allows the release of tiny fibres into the air - breathing in these fibres can cause serious damage to the lungs.  However, as long as asbestos is in good condition and isn't going to be disturbed or damaged, there's unlikely to be any risk.

The use of asbestos was banned in 1999 and it became illegal to use any materials containing asbestos. Some have been removed but ACMs are still present in many older buildings. 

Where's asbestos found in the home? 

Asbestos can be found in:

  • Roof and wall cladding
  • Pipe lagging
  • Roof slates, lining and flat roof tiles
  • Flue pipes and air bricks
  • Internal partitions
  • Some types of insulation
  • Plastic and vinyl floor tiles
  • Old ironing boards
  • Ropes surrounding oven doors
  • Water tanks

Asbestos was also used in some warm air heating systems, electric storage heaters (up till 1976), flameless catalytic gas heaters (up to 1988) and some early coal effect gas fires.

In addition, the duty to manage asbestos in terms of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 applies to common parts of domestic premises. This means that there are legal duties in relation to any asbestos or ACM in areas such as:

  • common areas of flats for access, circulation and storage such as the foyer, lift, stairs, lobby, boiler and plant-room, roof space, communal yard, garden, store rooms, bike shelter and external outbuilding
  • garages and/or parking facilities which are not allocated to any specific person
  • guest accommodation and common areas of dwellings which are used in part for short-stay accommodation such as a private house with a bed and breakfast room

How can I tell if something contains asbestos? 

In general, it's not possible to tell whether a product contains asbestos by just looking at it as modern asbestos-free materials often look similar. Only professionals with specific skills and experience should do this and, even then, only a laboratory test can positively identify whether a material contains asbestos.

If samples need to be taken and checked by a laboratory, this must be carried out under the guidance of a competent person from an accredited company.  Similarly, these companies can also help if you need help with an asbestos survey or if asbestos is to be removed.

Don't break or damage any material which may contain asbestos.

How do I get rid of asbestos? 

Information on disposal options can be found on the Barrhead Recycling Centre web page.

Alternatively, you can visit the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association website for details of contractors in East Renfrewshire.

Last modified on 6 April 2021

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