Are you concerned that there might be asbestos in your home or workplace? Asbestos is well-known as a potentially dangerous material to be around, but there are plenty of things that you can do to minimise the risk and keep yourself safe. Here are some top tips about asbestos.

When is asbestos a danger to you?

Asbestos has a fearsome reputation that is well deserved – it is still responsible for at least 5,000 deaths every year in the UK. But that doesn’t mean that you are at risk any time you are in the same area as asbestos, in fact many homes and places of work have asbestos in them without posing a threat to health. The key here is that asbestos is not usually hazardous if it is in good condition and has not been disturbed. It is only when the fibres get into the atmosphere and can get breathed into the lungs that they are dangerous.

If you discover asbestos, leave it alone

Perhaps the most important thing to know is that if you find material that you believe is or might be asbestos, you should leave it alone. Many people assume that the best thing to do with asbestos is to remove it as soon as possible, believing that they will be safe if the material is away from their vicinity. But this is actually the opposite of what you should do. An inexperienced and unqualified person should not attempt to remove asbestos themselves as this is when it can pose the biggest risk.

If the asbestos is in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed, it should be quite safe. Nevertheless, it’s worth having professionals examine your asbestos and taking their advice on the safe management of the material.

Likely places to find asbestos

Any building or property that was built before 2000 could contain asbestos, and it was widely used in construction for a variety of different purposes. This means you might find asbestos anywhere from textured coatings on ceilings like Artex to garage roofs and even concrete. Unfortunately it can be very difficult to establish whether something actually contains asbestos or not.

Asbestos is hidden within many building materials, so some things that look harmless can contain asbestos and, conversely, many things that look like asbestos are something different. If you are concerned about the material it’s important to have an asbestos survey carried out. This will be able to identify if there is any asbestos at a property or building.

How to minimise your risk of exposure

To minimise your risk of being exposed to asbestos you should be extra careful during any DIY of a building that was built before 2000. This especially goes for sheds and garages, where asbestos is commonly found. Additionally, you must ensure that any asbestos that you are aware of remains in good condition. If it begins to show signs of deterioration you should consider having it professionally removed.