If you work in, or have to carry out work in, an existing building, particularly one built or refurbished before 1980, treat any insulation or insulating board, etc., as asbestos and follow this guidance
Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related diseases, mainly cancers of the lungs and chest lining.
Asbestos is only a risk to health if asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in. Some asbestos containing materials are more vulnerable to damage and more likely to give off fibres than others.
In general, the materials that contain a high percentage of asbestos are more easily damaged. The list below is roughly in order of ease of fibre release.
- sprayed asbestos and asbestos loose packing - generally used as fire breaks in ceiling voids;
- moulded or performed lagging - generally used in thermal insulation of pipes and boilers;
- sprayed asbestos - generally used as fire protection in ducts, firebreaks, panels, partitions, soffit it boards, ceiling panels and around structural steel work;
- insulating boards used for fire protection, thermal insulation, partitioning and ducts;
- some ceiling tiles;
- millboard, paper and paper products used for insulation of electrical equipment. Asbestos paper has also been used as a fireproof facing on wood fibreboard;
- asbestos cement products, which can be fully or semi-compressed into flat or corrugated sheets. Corrugated sheets are largely used as roofing and wall cladding. Other asbestos cement products include gutters, rainwater pipes and water tanks;
- certain textured coatings;
- bitumen roofing material; and
- vinyl or thermoplastic floor tiles.
The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations require you to manage the risk from asbestos.