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Asbestos in the home

If you think there is asbestos in your home, we can advise you.

A person in a protective suit works on refurbishing a roof containing asbestos

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural mineral. It was used to insulate buildings and protect them from fire. It was also used as a building material from the 1930s to the mid-1980s.

How is asbestos harmful?

Asbestos is made up of tiny fibres which you can breathe in or swallow. These fibres can cause a number of serious and fatal diseases, including:

Where you might find asbestos in the home

You might find asbestos in places such as:
  • eaves, gutters and rainwater fall pipes
  • fire blankets
  • boilers
  • garage and shed roofs
  • linings for walls, ceilings and doors
  • insulation panels in some storage heaters
  • bath panels
  • central-heating flues
  • loose asbestos packing between floors and in partition walls
  • floor tiles
  • ironing boards
  • ceiling finishes.

Tenants – what to do if you think there is asbestos in your home

If the material is damaged try to close the area by shutting the door or putting something over or in front of the asbestos. Do not damage the material and do not clear up any mess yourself, unless you are trained to do so and have the correct safety equipment.

Council or housing association homes

Contact your landlord or managing agent and ask to have the material assessed, repaired or removed.

Private homes

Contact your landlord or managing agent and ask to have the material assessed, repaired or removed.

Home owners – what to do if you think there is asbestos in your home

We can give you advice. Contact us by email or phone 020 3373 9883/4.

You will have to pay for any tests and work to solve the problem.

You can find information about contractors licensed to remove asbestos on these websites:
Generally, asbestos is only a risk if you disturb or damage it and release fibres into the air. If asbestos is in good condition and in a place where it will not be disturbed or damaged, then it is safer to leave it where it is and manage any risks.

Asbestos cement

Asbestos cement is often used in the roofing and wall panels of garages and garden sheds. These panels are unlikely to release large amounts of fibres, because of the way they were made.
You do not have to remove asbestos. If it’s in good condition leave it alone. If your garage or shed roof starts to leak, you can repair it. But make sure you don’t scratch the surface of the panels when you make the repair. It is at this point that most people will decide to replace the asbestos panels.

But if you have the right training and the right equipment you can do it yourself:
  • the right disposable protective clothing
  • a P3 filtering breathing mask
  • thick polythene sheeting to wrap the panels in to get rid of them.
If you do the work yourself, take precautions:
  • prepare the work area – remove any unnecessary items, cover the floor and surfaces with disposable (throwaway) polythene sheeting (from builders merchants)
  • wear protective clothing – disposable overall with hood, disposable P3 filtering face mask (for use with asbestos) and rubber or disposable gloves
  • damp down – use a plant sprayer or hosepipe but don't soak the area as this will make cleaning up more difficult
  • remove the asbestos without breaking it up – wrap it in polythene sheeting or bags and seal with tape
  • look at the area carefully and clear up any debris by hand – wipe down with disposable damp clothes; never use a vacuum cleaner as this will just spread dust around
  • pick up polythene sheeting and remove protective clothing
  • get rid of it as hazardous waste wash your hands and face after you finish the job.
The HSE has guides to help you. They give essential advice on removing and looking after asbestos. You can find the link to the website in the next section.

Other types of asbestos

See the Asbestos Essentials guides on the HSE website.

Getting rid of the asbestos after you remove it

Do not put asbestos into domestic dustbins or in the household waste sections of household waste sites.
Asbestos is hazardous waste. You can only throw it away at certain waste sites. In Newham, the nearest site is:

Jenkins Lane Re-use and Recycling Centre
Jenkins Lane
Telephone: 0800 389 9918.
The centre takes asbestos that is damped down and double bagged (preferably in strong polythene sheeting). But you will need to phone before you visit the site to make sure there is enough space to store your waste on site.Some materials have a higher risk of releasing fibres and you must use a licensed asbestos contractor. Materials include: asbestos pipe insulation; and asbestos insulation board.

If you can’t take the asbestos panels safely to a licensed waste site yourself, the Corporation of London runs a waste collection service for small amounts of wrapped waste (up to 11.5 square metres). The service may collect larger amounts, but there is a charge. It operates on weekdays, and you can leave message on 020 7332 3433.

What about asbestos in other buildings?

We work with other council services to make sure that we manage asbestos in our non-domestic properties, which include industrial, commercial and public buildings. For more information, go to our Managing asbestos in non-domestic buildings page.

Contact the Asbestos Audit Team

Contact us by email or phone 020 3373 9883 or 9884.
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