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Where may asbestos be found?

Len Nightingale

In the final of my articles on dealing with a fire in a rental property I want to talk about asbestos, something I touched on in the second article.

Where may asbestos be found?

As I said previously, any house built before 1990 has a high likelihood of containing some asbestos. Asbestos was used extensively in a wide range of different building materials for many years. Materials containing asbestos are referred to as ACMs (asbestos-containing materials). Commonly used ACMs in buildings include:

  •  asbestos-cement roofing, wall cladding, spouting, downpipes and soffit linings
  •  textured ceilings
  •  imitation brick cladding
  • insulation board e.g. around fire places
  • vinyl flooring
  • hot water cylinder insulation
  • pipe lagging.


 ACMs may also be found in flues, fuse boards and night store heaters.

Do I need to worry about ACMs?

If you suspect that a building material contains asbestos, as long as the material is undamaged and likely to remain so, it may be left in place and removal is not required.

What happens if there is a fire?

If there is a fire, it is likely to damage any ACMs present. Fire damage will cause the asbestos to become friable, in other words it is easily crumbled under ordinary conditions. Once asbestos is friable, it becomes a health hazard and must be removed.

Legislation about removing asbestos

Under the Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations 1998, any work including removal, involving friable asbestos may only be carried out by a person holding a Certificate of Competence or by a person under the direct supervision of someone holding a Certificate of Competence. New regulations are due to come into effect very soon (4 March 2016) and have a similar requirement. The Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2015 require that in order to remove friable asbestos, a person must have a Class A asbestos removal licence. The new regulations also require that where there is more than 10 m2 of non-friable asbestos, a person must hold a Class B asbestos removal licence to be able to remove it.