A Timely Reminder at Christmas.
A timely reminder about the dangers in the loft
This Time of year we go into our loft to find our Christmas Decorations. We put ourselves into danger as your home has a 50% chance of harbouring asbestos if built before 2000 which could be lethal if disturbed. I was talking to Darren Duncan The owner of Surrey Safety Health and Safety Training https://www.surreysafety.co.uk/He told me :- This was something I always, at this time of year, say to the guys I’m training .... who’s going up into their lofts to get the Christmas decorations down ? Then ...... how many of you popped a face mask on? .... nobody does !! Then discuss all the floaty fibres you can see with torch light in our own lofts and ask how do I know those are not Asbestos ??? Usual reply is you don’t ! .... I reply I do as you can’t see the deadly Asbestos fibres.
Also Darren reminded me that, we mustn't forget, we return the Decorations back to the loft in the New Year, after the 12 days of Christmas.
He is so right The use of asbestos has been common in the industrialised world since the mid-19th century and it was not until 1999 that a total ban was imposed. Lee Carter, principal director of the consultants WSP Environment & Energy, says that it has been widely used in residential property: "Among private homes, more than 50% are likely to include some asbestos-containing materials."
While this may sound alarming, asbestos is likely to be dangerous only if it is released into the air and you breathe it in. Then you could be at long-term risk of developing lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma (a cancer that forms in the lining of the chest or abdomen). Experts say that there should be little or no risk if the asbestos is enclosed and left undisturbed but it must be regularly checked for signs of deterioration.
There was a case reported in the Guardian in 2011 :-
This is what happened to Brian Fitzpatrick, 49, from South Darenth, Kent, who endured the Christmas from hell when he discovered water damage in his house on 22 December. Pipes had burst in the loft and contractors alerted him to the threat of asbestos in the Artex coating on his ceilings. Before the sample results came back, one of the ceilings collapsed and the industrial dryer blew asbestos around the house. Fitzpatrick and his family have had to relocate while repairs and decontamination take place, a process that could continue for several more months.
Although the results of sampling tests indicated a low number of asbestos particles in the air, the family remain concerned for the future. Fitzpatrick, a partner at the building consultancy EC Harris, said: "It's a nightmare. No one expected asbestos. Emotionally, the experience has been traumatic for all the family but especially for my wife and daughter."
Often builders used whatever they had lying around, so you often find off-cuts of asbestos boards used as packing and filler."
Peter Coling, technical director at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward Chartered Surveyors, estimates that 30% of asbestos is found in ceiling coatings, 15% in boiler flue pipes and ducts, and 15% in floor tiles. A further 15% is found in areas such as cold water storage tanks, insulation materials, eaves, gutters and rainwater pipes, while 10% is in cement panel ceilings, 10% in outbuildings and 5% in fire protection materials, for example on the underside of integral garage roofs and in cupboards enclosing boilers.
It brings up the point that if your house was built before 2000 dont risk it. Please have a survey carried out. It doesnt cost that much but it could save yours and your families life, If the Asbestos is in a bad state then have it removed by an expert.
If it is ok then at least you are aware of where it is and can avoid drilling or painting it. We just dont want to be anywhere near Asbestos !!!
Have a very Happy Christmas and prosperous and safe New year !!!