Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that once was highly valued for its versatility, recognised for its heat resistance, tensile strength and insulating properties, and used for everything from fire-proof vests to home and commercial construction. It was often woven into fabric, and mixed with cement. It can be difficult to identify asbestos, as it is often mixed with other materials.
When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases. These diseases will not affect you immediately; they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything. This is why it is important that you protect yourself now.
Yes, and some are more hazardous than others. It depends on the type of asbestos and also the material it is bonded with:
Not all work with asbestos materials requires a licence. However, all work with sprayed asbestos coatings, asbestos insulation or asbestos lagging and most work with asbestos insulating board (AIB) requires a licence because of the hazardous nature of these higher risk materials.
For information on when you might require a licence and the application process check the HSE website below.
The removal of higher risk asbestos-containing materials (sprayed asbestos coatings, asbestos insulation, asbestos lagging) and most work involving asbestos insulating board (AIB) should only be carried out by a licensed contractor.
Small quantities of domestic bonded asbestos, for example shed or garage roofing or guttering, can be dismantled and disposed of by a householder themselves by following the guidance on the HSE website link below. If it becomes necessary to remove or work on asbestos materials you must make sure that you have taken sufficient precautions to reduce the risks.
If you are planning any DIY home improvements, repairs or maintenance - and intend to bring in any additional builders, maintenance workers or contractors - you should inform them of any asbestos materials in your home before they start work. If you choose to carry out DIY repairs or remove damaged asbestos materials yourself, make sure you wear the right protective equipment and follow safe working methods. There is advice to help you on:
1. Removal of asbestos cement
2. Drilling asbestos
3. Asbestos decontamination
Please be aware that ACMs need to be legally disposed of as hazardous waste. This should not be mixed with normal household waste.
Domestic householders can take small quantities of asbestos to some recycling centres e.g. Saltlands in Bridgwater and Highbridge recycling centre. However please phone first to check that their asbestos bank is not full and also to check how much you can take before visiting.
Since 4 April, all residents are required to pay for asbestos disposal in advance via an on-line payment portal on the Somerset Waste Partnership website. The asbestos and plasterboard payment portal is here: Somerset Waste Partnership - Asbestos disposal
Please ensure that you double bag wrap the asbestos. A black bin liner or something of a similar nature will be sufficient provided all joints are sealed with tape. Please advise the site when you arrive before removing the items from your vehicle and they will direct you appropriately.
Unlike asbestos, plasterboard and plaster are safe to handle but by law landfill must be avoided where possible, as the gypsum in plasterboard reacts with buried organic material to create toxic hydrogen sulphide and climate changing methane.
Residents do not need to book a recycling site visit to deposit plasterboard or plaster but should pay, go to one of the 11 sites that take plasterboard and show their receipt before unloading.
SWP is encouraging those with excess plasterboard or plaster to save money and materials by recycling them through their supplier, or to sell or give them away.
If you are concerned about irresponsible removal or disposal of asbestos, you can call on the number below, or report the issue online here: Report concerns about asbestos removal or disposal