D.I.Y., Asbestos & You

EWightmanBy Emma Wightman,

Litigation Solicitor, Francis Hanna & Co

As the July holidays approach, many of us will be carrying out (or at least attempting to carry out!) D.I.Y. around our homes.

If you are planning to do some home improvements during the holidays, it is important that you are vigilant in being able to identify any sources of asbestos there may be and, if discovered, to call in specialist contractors to remove this in a safe manner.

The British Lung Foundation estimates that more than half of homes in the UK contain asbestos. 

What is asbestos?

Asbestos was a versatile product which was widely used both in commercial and residential property between the 1940s until it was banned in 1999.

Where can asbestos be found in my home?

There are various places where asbestos could be located around the home including:-

  • Asbestos cement which was typically moulded into corrugated sheeting and used for garage and outhouse roofing
  • Artex often used on internal ceilings
  • Asbestos boards which would be used on internal walls and sound hollow when knocked on
  • Asbestos roofing felt which was used on flat roofs or between brickwork and roofing in external buildings
  • Pipe lagging
  • Storage heaters also often contain asbestos bricks

Asbestos comes in a variety of products and can often be difficult to spot.  Further guidance has been issued by the Health and Safety Executive of typical examples and this may be found at http://asbestos.hseni.gov.uk/galleries/

In my experience as a practitioner in this area, the majority of claims for victims who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition would be due to exposure to asbestos during the course of the victim’s employment many decades earlier.  However, tragically I also see cases where there was no occupational exposure to asbestos and the only exposure was at home in a domestic setting.

There is asbestos in my home – what do I do?

My colleague Martin Hanna, a partner in the firm of Francis Hanna & Co, deals with these very tragic cases on a daily basis. His advice would be as follows:-

If you suspect that there may be asbestos present you should not go near it.  Whilst asbestos is generally safe if undisturbed, if broken it will release dust and particles into the air which could result in anyone breathing in these fibres developing an asbestos related condition in the future.  Therefore it is imperative to avoid asbestos if discovered and have a specialist contractor remove this safely.”

Therefore, if you are considering D.I.Y. and suspect that there is asbestos present, be sure to have this examined by a specialist prior to carrying out any work.

This small step may well prevent you from developing an asbestos related condition such as pleural plaques, pleural thickening, asbestosis, asbestos related lung cancer or malignant mesothelioma.

If you would like any further information on this area, please feel free to contact Emma on ewightman@fhanna.co.uk or leave us your comments below.

2 thoughts on “D.I.Y., Asbestos & You

  1. Asbestos is very detrimental to many people , although its presence is still needed , but it seems there are many other alternatives , it is time we did not use it again , if it is not we who act , then who else ?


  2. the impact of the dangers of asbestos is very dangerous for the health of us all … we should no longer use or wear material from asbestos


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