Asbestos is well known as a banned construction material that causes harm to human health – but can you sort the asbestos facts from the asbestos fiction?

It is illegal to have asbestos in a workplace in the UK. Fact or fiction?

Fiction. The Asbestos Regulations 1999 completely banned the use of asbestos in the UK after certain forms of the substance had been previously banned in 1985. Many people assume that this means that it is illegal for asbestos to be present in any building, but this is not the case.

Asbestos was commonly used before it was banned and there has never been any legislation put in place that states asbestos needs to be removed – indeed in many cases, as long as the material is in good condition, it is safer to leave the asbestos in place rather than trying to remove it.

Asbestos is rare. Fact or fiction?

Fiction. Asbestos can be found in any building built before 1999 and was a very commonly used in all forms of construction. You shouldn’t assume that you can’t possibly have the substance in your home or at work, because it is very common.

Asbestos causes cancer. Fact or fiction?

Fact. Almost all cases of mesothelioma – cancer of the lining of the lungs – are linked to exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, long term exposure to the substance is also linked to lung cancer as well as a number of other conditions too.

All forms of asbestos are dangerous. Fact or fiction?

Fact. There are many different forms of asbestos and all of them are hazardous to health if they are disturbed and fibres are breathed into the lungs. If you believe you have any kind of asbestos present on either your work premises or at home it’s important to take action quickly.

If you find asbestos you should remove it immediately. Fact or fiction?

Fiction. As previously mentioned, finding asbestos is relatively common but removing it is typically more dangerous than leaving it where it is. The first thing you should do is arrange to have an asbestos survey carried out. This will be able to provide you with details on whether the substance is in fact asbestos, as well as advice on the next steps you need to take.