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A frequently asked questions document

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How do I insulate my room against noise?

Noise nuisance can be a major problem for you or your neighbours. Sometimes the only solution is to increase the acoustic insulation of the room. This can be undertaken by individuals with a modest DIY knowledge. Or you can contact Custom Audio Designs who provide a wealth of products and information on domestic soundproofing.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that occur naturally in the environment as bundles of fibres and can be separated into thin, durable threads. These fibres are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity. For these reasons, asbestos has been widely used in many industries.

There are two subgroups of asbestos: chrysotile, which has curly fibres and is in the serpentine family of minerals; and amphibole asbestos, which has straight, needle-like fibres and includes actinolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, and amosite asbestos. Chrysotile asbestos is the form that has been used predominantly in commercial applications worldwide

I am worried about a neighbour's contractor

Contractors should be following exactly the same methods and precautions as for a householder doing it himself. If the contractor is not fully wetting down the sheets of asbestos cement that he is removing or is breaking up sheets unnecessarily or piling up suspected asbestos waste or even throwing unprotected asbestos into a skip he is acting outwith the regulations and putting anyone in the vicinity at risk. You could contact your local HSE office or call their info line on 0845 3450055Alternatively you can contact the Environmental Health Department of your Local Authority

What is the danger from asbestos released during fires?

There is no evidence of a risk to health due to exposure from asbestos released during fires. This is mainly from asbestos cement roofing materials and most of the fibres remain sealed within the fragments. However, it is best to minimise exposure to asbestos wherever possible, and so if it is suspected that asbestos may be released during a fire, local residents should stay indoors and should not pick up or otherwise disturb any debris from the fire.

I think I have been exposed to asbestos. What should I do?

Recently published research suggests that single or low level exposures are very unlikely to lead to disease and the risks with such an exposure are considered “insignificant”.Disease associated with asbestos exposure occurs through breathing in asbestos fibre as dust. The chance of developing a disease is related to the amount of fibre inhaled and the duration of exposure.If you think you may have been exposed, you may wish to discuss your concerns with your doctor. At this stage a full medical examination or x-ray would not be beneficial since it takes many years for the effects of asbestos to appear.If you have been accidentally exposed to asbestos in your place of work, as a result of a fibre release, your employers must investigate the incident and report it the Health & Safety Executive.

I have heard that for asbestos exposure one fibre kills. Is this true?

Asbestos fibres are present everywhere in the air at very low levels.

This means that everyone is breathing in a very low level of fibres all the time.

The small amount of fibres resulting from this background exposure appears to be well tolerated, so the theory that one asbestos fibre kills would appear to be unfounded

Why are people at risk from asbestos?

Since asbestos is not dangerous unless fibres are released into the air, any asbestos present in buildings will pose no harm if it is in good condition and can be left in place if it is unlikely to be disturbed.

Therefore, we can stop the possibility of ill health by reducing the exposure of people to airborne respirable asbestos fibres.

However, any activity that causes fibres to be released will cause problems, for example cutting, using machinery, removal of asbestos, drilling or sawing, repair or replacement of ceiling tiles or unintentional damage.

Often, the people carrying out these activities are unknowingly being exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos is typically mixed in with other substances such as cement and plastics. It is fire retardant, an effective strengthening component and is indestructible. This made it a very useful substance for reinforcing building works and fore doors and panels.

However, this indestructibility is what makes asbestos dangerous, as it cannot be dealt with by the human body.

Asbestos can, as a result, give rise to a whole range of health problems. These include inhalation problems, including asbestosis(a chronic lung disease that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and permanent lung damage) and pleural plaques (lumps on the lung tissue). Asbestos exposure can also induce some types of cancer including mesothelioma.

Malignant mesothelioma is an uncommon, but no longer rare, cancer that is difficult to diagnose and poorly responsive to therapy. Malignant mesothelioma is the most serious of all asbestos-related diseases.

Where do you find asbestos?

It is possible to find asbestos containing materials in any building constructed before the year 2000. These buildings can include shops, factories, offices, farms, hospitals, and domestic premises.

The materials can be found anywhere from the roof to the patch under your sink. The only way to tell if it's really asbestos is to have a sample analysed in a laboratory.

Why is asbestos still a problem?

Asbestos was used extensively as a building material in Great Britain from 1950 to the mid-1980s, and continued to be used until 1999.

Although some asbestos has been removed, it is likely that many thousands of tonnes are still present within buildings.

It is estimated that over half a million non-domestic premises currently have some form of asbestos in them.

How do I deal with asbestos?

Since the mid-1980s the use of asbestos in house building has been banned. In properties built before this date, asbestos was used in many areas (e.g. garages, roofing, ceilings, heat insulation pipes).

If asbestos is in good condition, it can be left in place. Added protection can be given by painting using an alkali-based primer and top coat.

If asbestos is damaged or giving off dust, it should be removed. Large amounts should only be removed by a specialist contractor.


I want to recycle my rubbish where do I take it?

In Scotland? Go to www.wascot.org.uk

In England and Wales? Go to www.wrap.org.uk

If you still have a question feel free to call us on 0800 028 6838

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