Asbestos is a word we’re all probably fairly familiar with – and even if we don’t know what it is exactly, we do know that it has dangerous connotations.
We might also associate the prevalence of asbestos with the workplace – public buildings, factories and the like, but the truth is, the use of asbestos before 1985 was commonly used in the building of homes as well.
While it’s no longer used here in the UK, if you live in an older property, it’s worth being mindful of asbestos – and where you might come across it in your home.
Thompsons Solicitors are experts in asbestos, having helped thousands of people claim compensation for asbestos-related diseases. Here, the firm’s specialist asbestos solicitors provide some advice on what you should do if you think you have asbestos in your home.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre that was used in construction and other industries legally until 1985. In 1985, its use was banned in the UK. The three common types of asbestos used in the UK were: blue (crocidolite), brown (amosite) and white (chrysotile). There are medical arguments about which is the most dangerous type of asbestos, but the bottom line is none of them are safe.
Why is it dangerous?
When asbestos is damaged or disturbed, tiny fibres are released into the air. If they are breathed in, they can lodge in the lungs. Over a period of, on average, no less than 30 years, the fibres can develop to restrict a person’s breathing, and in the worst cases, cause cancer, including mesothelioma.
Where might I find it in my home?
If you live in a property which was built before 2000, you could still find asbestos in the following areas:
- Interior wall paint
- Ceilings and ceiling tiles
- Wood stoves and fireplaces
- Window putty
- Garden sheds and garages
- Floor tiles and carpet underlay
- Home sidings
- Water heaters
- Air conditioning and heating ducts
- Gas and sewage pipes
Should I be worried?
Having asbestos in your home is not in itself cause for alarm. Provided asbestos is not disturbed and cannot release fibres, it is not likely to cause harm.
Do I need an asbestos survey when buying a property?
There is no legal requirement to do so. However, there are many reasons why it is a good idea to commission a survey from an accredited professional. To start with, it’s going to give you peace of mind, and if you do find that there is asbestos present, you can put the right measures in place to manage the risk, and ask those you are buying the property from to pay for the cost of doing so.
What should I look for in an asbestos surveyor?
It’s important to choose a competent, qualified and accredited professional to undertake the survey. Make sure they can provide evidence of suitable training and experience and that they are independent and have quality assurance systems in place.
How much does an asbestos survey cost?
This varies greatly depending on the size of the property, the number of potential asbestos containing materials and the number (if any) of test samples required. If you go online, you can find cost comparison websites to help you get a feel for the pricing.
What should I do if I think my home has asbestos?
If you find something in your home that you suspect is asbestos, don’t touch it.
If what you suspect to be asbestos is disturbed, fibres may be released, so the important thing to do is limit access to the area until a professional can run a test to confirm the presence of asbestos and advise you on how it can be removed safely.
Thompsons Solicitors brought the first successful asbestos-related claim in the UK to the House of Lords back in 1972 and has since then acted on behalf of thousands of individuals and families affected by asbestos exposure. We campaign with others to give a voice to the hundreds of thousands of people who continue to be affected by the devastating legacy asbestos use has left behind.
If you would like to talk to a specialist in confidence about making a claim for an asbestos-related illness that has affected your or a loved-one, please contact Thompsons Solicitors today on 0800 0 224 224.