Use of asbestos
- asbestos cement: used in shed or corrugated garage roofs, roofing tiles, eaves, gutters and water tanks
- soft asbestos: used in pipe and boiler lagging
- insulation board: used in fire-proof cladding, thermal insulation board and acoustic panels
- sprayed coatings: used on soffits to communal walkways in blocks of flats and underground car parks for fire protection
- miscellaneous: used in ironing boards, brake pads, textured paints, floor tiles and certain types of Calor gas portable heaters manufactured before 1976.
What are the hazards?
The mere physical presence of asbestos does not necessarily create a health risk. The risk arises from breathing microscopic asbestos fibres that are released through mishandling or in areas where the asbestos is subject to heavy wear.
Action to be taken
If asbestos material is in good order and repair - leave it alone! You are likely to create the potentially hazardous dust by attempting to remove the material. To reduce the risk of contamination we recommend the following:
- seal and paint: prime asbestos sheets with an alkali-resistant primer then finish with emulsion or gloss paint. Do not scrape prior to painting
- cover sheet asbestos with wallpaper fixed with a strong adhesive or with hardboard
- seal and paint with a bitumastic paint such as Aquaseal or Synaprufe
- seal with a PVA adhesive such as Unibond.
Do not attempt removal of:
- soft asbestos
- asbestos insulating board (similar to plaster board)
- sprayed asbestos coating.
These should be dealt with by a professional stripping company licensed by the Health and Safety Executive. A list of contractors is available on request from this division. The work must be undertaken in accordance to a strict code of practice involving the use of specialised equipment and protective clothing.
Removal of sheet asbestos (e.g. corrugated shed or garage roof)
Removal of asbestos cement products, which normally comprise 10-15% of asbestos removal, can be undertaken by the householder provided the following precautions are observed:
- avoid breaking up small pieces by using hammers or dropping from heights into refuse skips
- do not use power tools - hand tools only
- undo hardware such as fixing bolts and screws and remove panels complete
- thoroughly soak the material before starting work. You are advised to introduce a suitable wetting agent, such as washing-up liquid, into the water before saturation
- stack the removed sheets in the open and cover with a plastic sheet. Small pieces should be soaked and swept into strong plastic sacks and sealed (no vacuum cleaning)
- always work in well-ventilated areas
- persons handling asbestos should wear washable over-clothing and should thoroughly wash bare skin on completion of the work. If removal is difficult and large pieces of asbestos need to be broken up, you are advised to hire clothing and equipment from a reliable hire shop (see the telephone directory) and wear a dust mask specified for asbestos dust.
Disposal of asbestos
Do not put asbestos waste in a wheelie bin or take it to the local authority civic amenities depot - asbestos disposal needs special measures.
You must contact the Corporation of London - Hazardous Waste Unit on 020 7332 3433.
The Hazardous Waste Service will collect up to 15 square metres of asbestos sheeting free of charge. This waste must be wrapped individually in thick polythene sheeting. Do not break the sheets to put into bags.
The service will collect broken asbestos that is bagged in sealed builders rubble bags. These must be easy to lift and carry by one person. Five half-filled bags will be collected free of charge.
If you have more than 15 square metres of sheeting or five half-filled bags please ring the Corporation of London - Hazardous Waste Unit for more information.
If you suspect that asbestos is dumped anywhere in the borough please contact the Private Sector Housing Division (see details below).