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Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Asbestos in residential properties can come in many forms. However, there are a few building materials where asbestos was regularly used such as Artex and textured paint, corrugated asbestos cement sheeting, vinyl floor tiles, as well as insulation and electrical equipment.

Amosite and crocidolite were banned in 1985 and chrysotile (the type found in Artex) was banned on the 24th August 1999.

Despite the legislation prohibiting the supply and usage of asbestos containing materials (ACMs), there was a loophole that excluded materials that were already in use prior to the ban being enforced. As a result, existing stocks of materials and products containing the fibrous mineral were permitted to remain active until they reached the end of their service life, and exemptions on the use of chrysotile were still in place until as late as 2005. As the ban did not legally mandate the removal and eradication of asbestos-containing products, it is easy to presume that such materials that were well within their service life could easily have been transported into properties constructed after the year 2000.

There have also been cases where stockpiled ACMs have been used throughout the construction supply chain, particularly when taking importation legislation into account. British law states that all imports coming into the UK should be declared 100% free from asbestos; however, the declaration level outside of the UK varies considerably. Across Europe, the asbestos-free level is 0.1%, with the USA at 1% and less than 10% across parts of Asia, meaning that there is room for error for ACMs to be imported in the UK.

Therefore, properties built after 2000, although technically they should not contain asbestos, it would be prudent to be vigilant.

Artex, corrugated asbestos cement sheeting and vinyl floor tiles that contain asbestos or any other asbestos related construction material are perfectly harmless if they are in good condition and providing they are not disturbed. They should not be drilled, sanded or removed without first being tested for asbestos.

If any material is confirmed to contain asbestos further advice on working with the material can be found here

Author: Tony Waring is a Chartered Building Engineer (C.Build E MCAB), an Associate of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (AssocRICS) and a member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (MFPWS).  He has over 30 years of surveying experience and 20 years as an engineer.

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