Premises Likely To Contain Asbestos

Asbestos is one of the most commonly used building materials used during the 20th century. Its flexible properties made it ideal for many building applications, being easy to process and cheap to produce. It is only when the terrible consequences of exposure to asbestos fibres became apparent that the use of the material declined. Its supply and use in the UK has now been banned.

Most premises constructed between 1950-1980 will contain some asbestos. In addition, premises that were refurbished or that had additions constructed for them within this period are also likely to contain some asbestos products.

Premises constructed outside of this period should not be considered to be asbestos-free, since asbestos was being produced for many years before 1950. Similarly, asbestos may be found in premises constructed or refurbished since 1980, particularly in the form of asbestos cement.

Most types of premises built during this period will contain asbestos products, including:
  • factories
  • offices
  • shops
  • domestic homes
  • hospitals
  • public buildings
  • schools
  • caravans.

Asbestos is  particularly prevalent in buildings which were built using steel frames, heating installations with thermal insulation and electrical substations and distribution rooms, cupboards and boards. In addition, the use of asbestos insulation boards was at its height during this period.
Since the 1920s, heating installations were commonly insulated with asbestos lagging in the form of pre-formed thermal insulation, and sometimes before then in the form of yarn and rope. Blue and brown asbestos were the main types used, although white was used in the later stages as it was generally cheaper. Blue was used extensively where acid resistance was necessary.

Asbestos insulation board (AlB) was extensively used between 1950 and the early 1970s, particularly in system built housing. These boards are often referred to as "asbestolux", which was a trade name for the product, and are very often mistakenly thought to be an asbestos substitute product. They were used for:
  • structural fire protection
  • heat resistance
  • acoustic insulation
  • ceiling tiles
  • partition boards
  • general purpose building board.

Brown asbestos was the most widely used type of asbestos in these boards.

Asbestos cement products were generally made with white asbestos, although early products did contain some blue and brown. These products have been extensively used in corrugated and flat sheet forms as roofing and cladding materials, as well as for panelling and partition uses. Further uses include cold water storage tanks, rainwater goods, flue pipes and drains.
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