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HEALTH & SAFETY


A GUIDE FOR DIYERS ASBESTOS AND ITS RISKS:


While we’ve all been living in isolation and practicing social distancing in order to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection, there’s another ever-present danger of aspestosis that mustn’t be forgottten. Asbestos management experts, Alpha Surveys share their knowledge on asbestos and its risks and how DIYers can stay protected


distancing, many long-awaited DIY projects are finally underway. And as the large hardware chains and independent retailers


W reopen to


the public, even more customers are tackling home improvements. However, although more protected from coronavirus in their own homes, there is another dangerous health hazard DIYers need to be aware of. Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are common in properties built before the UK-wide ban of asbestos in 1999, and pose a serious health risk that many DIYers are not fully aware of. In this article, DIY Week has teamed up with asbestos management specialists, Alpha Surveys, to outline asbestos and its risks, and how you can stay safe when completing DIY projects your home.


in What is asbestos?


Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre which is sourced from particular types of rock and soil. There are six types of asbestos, three of which are commonly found in UK buildings: • Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos)


8 DIY WEEK MAY 2020


ith the 19


Covid- outbreak


meaning UK homeowners are staying in and practicing social


• Chrysotile (White Asbestos) • Amosite (Brown Asbestos) Due to its versatility and fire-


resistant properties, asbestos was widely used in many areas of the building trade up until its ban. If your home predates the ban (i.e. was built before 2000), the chances are that asbestos containing materials (ACMs) will be present.


What are the risks of asbestos? Asbestos poses serious risks to health, with the inhalation of the fine asbestos particles leading to life- long conditions, including: • Asbestos plaques • Asbestosis (scarring of the lungs) • Lung cancer • Mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer of the lining of the body cavity)


Asbestos in the home


Asbestos can be found in a multitude of areas within the home. Before the risks associated with asbestos were known, asbestos fibres were mixed into many building materials, including: • Cement • Plaster • Floor, wall and roof tiles • Guttering • Insulation


Although the risks associated with asbestos are severe, it can exist in your home safely, if undisturbed.


Asbestos and DIY DIY


disturbances


activities often cause in


your released into the property,


which of course increases the risk of asbestos containing materials being potentially disturbed and fibres


air. estimated that 13 people in


It’s the


UK die from conditions caused by previous exposure to asbestos each day. As such, it is important to take precautions when conducting DIY activities to protect yourself and your family. To safely conduct DIY activity in your home, you need to determine if there is asbestos containing materials in your home and if there is a chance these ACMs may be compromised during DIY.


Asbestos testing and surveys If you are in any doubt about the presence of asbestos in your home, you should always consult a trained asbestos specialist before carrying out DIY which could compromise ACMs. When sourcing an asbestos survey provider, remember to look for names accredited by the British Occupational Health Society (BOHS). An asbestos testing service


provider has the skill and knowledge to safely carry out inspections to determine if asbestos is present in your property. They will be able to inspect your property, review construction information and take samples to determine if asbestos


containing materials are present. If your home is found to contain asbestos containing materials, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will be unable to carry out DIY. Once the results from your testing samples are in, a reputable asbestos management provider will then offer professional and trustworthy advice on whether the asbestos in your home poses any threat or requires removal. If removal is required, they will be able to do this for you. Alternatively, if the asbestos can remain in situ, they will create an asbestos management plan to help you carry out DIY activity in a controlled, safe way.


Conclusion If you suspect that asbestos could be present in your home, you should not take chances with DIY. Although asbestos testing is not a legal requirement for residential properties, it is an advised precautionary measure before any home improvements that include demolition or disturbance are carried out.


This article was contributed by Alpha Surveys, a professional team providing reliable asbestos services to commercial and domestic clients across London and the South East. For more details, please visit www.alphasurveys.co.uk


www.diyweek.net


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