Ask the Experts: Jake – Dealing with Asbestos

A photo of a man next to text that say 'Ask the Experts, Jake, Asbestos Q&A'. Title image for the blog about dealing with asbestos

Asbestos can be tricky to deal with. It’s important for everyone’s safety that it’s dealt with correctly. But what should you do if you find asbestos on your site? We sat down with Jake, one of our waste experts, to find out how you can stay safe when you’re dealing with asbestos.

So, Jake, what is asbestos?

Asbestos is actually a group of six different minerals that occur naturally and are which join together with heat resistant fibres. Chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite all make up the material. It used to be used for a range of products before people realised how dangerous the material is.

What did asbestos used to be used for?

It’s been used for a wide range of things, from car brakes and floor tiles to boilers and pipes. Around the 1930s, it was used for heating insulation on houses as well as a fire retardant across different sectors. All forms were banned in 1999 due to safety concerns but can still be found in lots of older houses as it was used for a variety of different building materials.

Why is asbestos so dangerous?

Asbestos only becomes dangerous when it is disturbed. If the material is disturbed, dust particles can enter the air and get into your lungs. The carcinogenic fibres can cause inflammation and scarring on the lungs as well as mesothelioma, an aggressive type of lung cancer. It can also cause asbestosis, a lung disease that stems from asbestos exposure.

What’s the process for removing asbestos?

When you’re removing the material, you need to have the right approach. Our team will always be wearing the right Personal Protective Equipment as well a use a heavy-duty polythene sheeting to contain any fibres. The material will be double wrapped and labelled to ensure safety. You will need to keep the waste in a skip you can seal and lock when until transportation by a licenced waste carrier.

People in hazmat suits dealing with asbestos
Someone on a ladder dealing with asbestos

How is asbestos disposed of?

In the UK, you can only dispose of asbestos via landfill, just to keep everybody safe. Because of its potentially hazardous materials, you need to dispose of it in a way that doesn’t harm anybody. The 2005 Hazardous Waste regulations apply so you’ll need to make sure that, you’re complying with Duty of Care. Ensure you’re only using a licensed waste carrier to dispose of the material. Also, you’ll need to complete a Hazardous Waste Consignment Note and keep this for three years.

Can asbestos be recycled?

At the minute, there aren’t any well established routes for recycling asbestos. However, there is exciting research into the possibilities of recycling the material. People are looking into whether it is possible to turn it into glass as a recovery route. The material goes through a washing process with hot sodium hydroxide. Afterwards, it will undergo a heating process to change the material into glass.

What should people do if they find asbestos on their site?

If people find asbestos on their site, they should get in touch with an expert straight away. The longer it’s left, the more likely it is to be harmful for people. You should never try to remove asbestos yourself. Asbestos should only be removed by trained professionals and specialists. Our team can provide professional advice and safe practical support if you’re dealing with asbestos on your site.

For more information…

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Found asbestos on your site? Our team of experts can provide guidance and source the right team to remove asbestos safely, ensuring full regulatory guidance. We can provide your business with the safe, practical support you need, should you encounter hazardous waste. Get in touch with one of our experts today to find out more about our asbestos removal service throughout the UK.

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