Can You Remove Asbestos Yourself?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre that was widely used by construction companies to insulate properties until the late 1990s. Years later, medical professionals discovered that asbestos exposure can cause severe health complications and deadly diseases.
Although its use was banned in the UK in 1999, asbestos can still be found in older buildings. Any property that was built or refurbished before 2000 could have asbestos. Exposure can be extremely dangerous or life-threatening, so you must know what to do if you come across it.
What are the health risks of asbestos?
While asbestos can be deadly, it’s not usually harmful if left alone. However, when materials containing asbestos are disturbed, they release tiny fibres into the air which can cause serious diseases if inhaled. The symptoms of asbestos exposure do not usually become apparent for many years and it’s often too late to do anything.
According to figures by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), asbestos still kills around 5,000 workers each year and around 20 tradesmen die each week as a result of past exposure.
Diseases linked to asbestos
There is evidence to prove that asbestos can cause the following diseases:
- Mesothelioma: This is a type of cancer which affects the lining of the lungs and the membranes in the lower digestive tract. There are around 2,400 mesothelioma deaths in the UK every year, most of which are caused exclusively by asbestos exposure.
- Lung cancer: Asbestos-related lung cancer is the same as lung causes caused by smoking and other causes. An international study published in 2020 found that asbestos is responsible for 37.5% of all occupational lung cancer cases. This makes it the biggest cause of lung cancer linked to occupation.
- Asbestosis: This is a chronic and serious lung condition caused by long-term exposure to asbestos. It causes scarring and inflammation in the lungs which leads to symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and a persistent cough.
- Pleural thickening: This condition causes the lining of the lungs to swell and thicken. As the condition worsens, it can cause chest pain and breathing difficulties.
Asbestos exposure has been linked to multiple other diseases including ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and pleural effusion. You can view the full list of asbestos-related diseases by visiting asbestos.com.
Can I remove asbestos by myself?
We understand that many homeowners and businesses are worried that removing asbestos material could prove costly. You may be wondering whether you can avoid hiring professional asbestos removers by removing the material yourself.
The simple answer to this question is no — and we would not recommend it! Let’s look at some of the reasons why:
Health risk of asbestos
As mentioned, asbestos exposure has been linked to several life-threatening diseases including lung cancer and pleural thickening. If you or an employee attempts to remove asbestos, you risk disturbing the material and inhaling toxic asbestos fibres.
Attempting to remove asbestos without the correct training and equipment will put you and those around you at serious risk and can have fatal consequences.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations
Asbestos-related diseases are still a major problem in the UK and the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 were introduced to ensure the safe handling and disposal of asbestos.
According to the regulations: “In the majority of cases, work with asbestos needs to be done by a licensed contractor.” In addition, “training is mandatory for anyone liable to be exposed to asbestos fibres at work.”
Business owners who are responsible for the maintenance of non-domestic premises have a duty of care to follow these regulations and protect their employees against harm.
Rules surrounding asbestos disposal
There are strict rules surrounding who can handle asbestos and the disposal methods that must be used following removal.
Some asbestos materials (e.g. asbestos insulation) can only be removed by a fully licensed asbestos removal contractor, who must notify the HSE before taking an action. Other types of asbestos (e.g. asbestos-containing paper) do not require an HSE licence, but the individual or company removing the material must still notify the HSE using the ASBNN1W1 form.
The rules surrounding asbestos removal can be confusing and you must know how to remove asbestos safely.
Using a licensed waste removal company is the easiest way to ensure that asbestos is removed, transported, and disposed of in line with current regulations.
Can I remove asbestos tiles myself?
Asbestos floor tiles were a popular choice of flooring before they were banned in 1999. Many older properties still have old asbestos floor tiles hidden under carpets and they look similar to the vinyl tiles used today.
Vinyl asbestos flooring is generally safe to be around, but it becomes dangerous if you decide to remove it. Removing asbestos floor tiles is risky because the tiles may release toxic dust into the air — this creates a serious hazard for contractors and do-it-yourself renovators.
If you suspect that your building has asbestos flooring, it’s always safest to contact qualified removal experts.
Removing asbestos floor tiles yourself may seem like a cheaper option, but it’s just not worth the risk involved.
Leave asbestos removal to the experts!
Asbestos is dangerous and untrained removal efforts can have serious and fatal consequences. There are also strict regulations controlling the disposal of asbestos and those who fail to comply with the rules may face severe legal repercussions.
Attempting to remove asbestos yourself is simply not worth the risks involved. It’s always safest to leave asbestos disposal in the hands of a trained and competent professional.
Our asbestos removal service
At Ultima, we offer a reliable and HSE-certified service that includes asbestos surveying, testing, and regulated asbestos disposal services.
If you are concerned about asbestos, contact our friendly advisors to arrange an asbestos survey. Our specialist team will conduct a detailed assessment of your site and complete thorough asbestos removal services to create a risk-free work environment.
This means that you and your employees can return to the workplace knowing that your premises is safe and risk-free.
Why choose Ultima
At Ultima, we have more than 20 years of experience carrying out asbestos disposal in London and throughout the UK.
Our certified asbestos removal experts are trained to the highest standards and receive the highest certifications in the industry. There are many asbestos removal companies available, but it’s essential that you choose a licensed contractor to ensure that asbestos removal is safe and effective.
Get in touch to arrange professional asbestos removal
Our team has many years of experience dealing with asbestos removal in both domestic and commercial environments. If you are concerned about asbestos or would like advice on how to get rid of asbestos safely and legally, get in touch with our team of specialists.