Asbestos

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that has been a popular building material since the 1950s. It has been widely used as an insulator (to keep in heat and keep out cold), has excellent fire protection properties and protects against corrosion.

Where is asbestos found?

Asbestos is found in many products used in buildings, including ceiling tiles, pipe and boiler insulation, floor and ceiling tiles and sprayed coatings such as Artex.

In Slough, asbestos can commonly be found as asbestos cement and used for corrugated roofing sheets, as boiler flue pipes and as water tanks and cisterns. In asbestos cement products the asbestos is bonded into the cement as part of the manufacturing process. Asbestos is also common as a fire insulation addition in board or sheet form for doors in residential and commercial properties, including hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, flats and multi–occupied properties, as well as offices, shops and other commercial buildings.

Asbestos cement products contain white (Chrysotile) asbestos whereas insulation boards and other asbestos materials commonly contain brown (Amosite) and/or blue (Crocidolite) asbestos. It is accepted that the brown and blue forms of asbestos are much more dangerous than the white.

Why asbestos may be a problem

Old, damaged or disturbed asbestos containing materials (ACMs) can release fibres into the air where these can be breathed into the lungs. The fibres may lodge in the lungs and remain there for many years, causing possible damage. Breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres creates a risk of lung diseases, including cancers, asbestosis and mesothelioma. Most asbestos-related health problems do not show up immediately but usually only after many years after initial exposure.

There are still more than 4,000 work-related deaths from asbestos each year in the UK.

Asbestos in the home?

If you live in a building built before the year 2000, it is possible that some parts of the building will contain asbestos.

  • If you are a Council tenant you should contact your Housing Manager if you have concerns about asbestos in your home. The following links are advice from the Council’s Housing Service on asbestos in Council homes.

Asbestos - Information you should know

Further guidance - Living with asbestos

  • If you are a homeowner, leaseholder or private sector tenant, the HSE website provides the information that you most probably need. However, you can contact the Neighbourhood Enforcement Team on 01753 475111, should you be unsure and need advice about asbestos and what to do about it.

The general rule is to always leave asbestos alone, it is usually safe until it gets damaged or disturbed.

Removing asbestos

If you are a Council tenant the Council will deal with any asbestos removal, repair or other works.

If you are a homeowner, leaseholder or private sector tenant, the Council will not remove asbestos from your property nor will it carry out any works on asbestos.

Working with asbestos

There are some works with asbestos that you can, legally, carry out yourself. The following link is to the HSEs advice section and task guidance sheets for jobs that you might undertake yourself.

How to dispose of asbestos

Domestic disposal

Bonded asbestos, ie asbestos cement products, can be accepted without charge at Chalvey Waste Transfer Station via the Household Waste Recycling Centre.

This service is by appointment only. To make an appointment, call the Chalvey Waste Transfer Station on 01753 475111 option 4. 

You must also meet the following conditions:

  • be a resident of Slough;
  • bring proof of address with you, such as a recent utility bill and photo ID (drivers license of passport);
  • the cement bonded asbestos must be arising from a domestic property e.g. a shed roof, drainpipes, water tank;
  • only 5 small (which can be carried in a car) sheets of bonded asbestos can be accepted;
  • the asbestos must be damped down and then double bagged or wrapped tightly in plastic as this prevents release of dust; 
  • either bring help with you or bring manageable sized pieces, as staff are not able to assist you;

Please note:  You must inform a member of staff on site that you are planning to dispose of asbestos.
The cement bonded asbestos must be arising from a domestic property within the borough. If you bring more than the accepted 5 small sheets, then you might need to have disposal undertaken by a specialist Asbestos Removal Contractor, Licensed by the Health and Safety Executive.

You can also dispose of bonded asbestos at the Buckinghamshire County Council Waste Transfer Station:

Please refer to individual site policies for their acceptance criteria.

Larger or trade disposal

Demolition and disposal of waste of larger asbestos cement structures or other types of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) will need to be carried out by a specialist Asbestos Removal Contractor, Licensed by the Health and Safety Executive.

You can contact the Neighbourhood Enforcement Team for advice.

Asbestos in the workplace

Asbestos in the workplace is subject to the legal requirements of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 and to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Anyone who is responsible for maintenance and repairs in non-domestic buildings has a legal ‘duty to manage’ any asbestos in that building. The HSEs brief guide ‘Managing asbestos in buildings’ provides current guidance and advice.

For further advice contact the Food and Safety Team. Officers in this team are responsible for enforcing health and safety in most commercial premises in Slough.