If you are currently planning a refurbishment or demolition job on a pre-2000 existing property, you may come across fibrous building materials such as asbestos cement or modern fibre cement substitutes. It is essential to understand exactly which type of material you are faced with because being wrong about them is extremely costly – for your health, reputation and your finances.
The only real way of determining what material contains asbestos is to have a professional asbestos removal company conduct asbestos testing, but understanding the main differences between asbestos cement and their modern substitutes is something we can talk about here.
For many decades before 1999, cladding made of asbestos fibre cement was used throughout the UK in most construction projects – especially throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
It was sold under brand names such as Super Six and Panel Sheet and can be found in thousands of structures still standing in the UK to this day. The health risks associated with asbestos cement are low as long as it is undisturbed and in a maintained state. It only becomes dangerous when it is broken up, damaged or cracked – leading to fibres being exposed and airborne and presenting a variety of health issues for those working around them and inhaling them daily.
Modern fibre cement
Asbestos was originally present in fibre cement that was used to build both residential and commercial facilities nationwide until its ban in 1999. This relationship remains if you mention fibre cement, as many still associate it with containing asbestos.
Modern cement products found today do not contain asbestos and have not for many years. Knowing that this building material typically only comprises cellulose fibres, cement, water and sand – it is safe for use without any asbestos risk or related hazards. The use of fibre cement is typically used in interior ceiling and wall lining and exterior cladding within both residential and commercial construction.
Finding out which is which
As we mentioned above, asbestos testing is the only surefire way to determine if any area of your property has asbestos-containing materials. Whilst there is no alternative for testing, you can keep an open eye out for certain items to get a general idea of the material present on your property or worksite.
As long as you are not disturbing any of the materials, you can look for any brand names on products and conduct a quick google search for useful information around them. Certain asbestos items are labelled and identify if it contains traces, if a product does not have a label identifying if it contains asbestos or not, you should treat it like it does and rely on a professional with knowledge to determine it. In some cases, ACMs have a golf ball-like texture less popular with newer fibre cement materials. In most cases, the age and colour will be able to give you a good indication of it looking old or worn, meaning it may be more likely to contain asbestos due to its initial construction period. Sometimes there may be a stamp on the panels stating ‘NT’ or ‘New Technology’, therefore non-asbestos.
The only way to know for sure and keep everyone safe is to have testing and asbestos surveying conducted by specialists in asbestos services. Contact the team at Grosvenor Asbestos Solutions today for asbestos removal Stockport.