We thought that now could be a good time to discuss how to dispose of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) safely and correctly – and why that’s important. After all, it’s become quite a newsy topic – for example there have been reports asbestos being dumped in and around East Sussex over the past year. One instance includes fly-tippers dumping six tonnes of potentially harmful asbestos in a rural lane in Hartfield, East Sussex last October, leading to its closure for several days while specialist cleaners made it safe at public expense. Industrial waste containing asbestos was also found in Essex in early 2020 – and it took weeks for it to be cleared.
So here’s our guide to what ACMs are – and why they need to be handled with extreme care.
What Are Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACMs)?
The fibrous mineral asbestos was often used in construction during the last six decades of the last century, before its use was banned in the UK in the year 2000.
However, a loophole excluding materials that were already being used before the ban was enforced has meant existing products and materials could stay active. Meanwhile, on brownfield sites, especially where pre-2000 commercial and industrial buildings have been demolished or redeveloped, asbestos can be found in the soil, rubble and other debris.
And because asbestos was used in a wide variety of building materials, ACMs can be found in roofing, coatings, insulation materials, wall and ceiling panels, roof and floor tiles, cladding, water tanks, gutters, pipe lagging, boilers and even places you may not have thought of, such as fireplaces and airing cupboards (this list is by no means exhaustive).
So we’re frequently surprised at how often ACMs are found in projects like house renovations.
When older plant or equipment is moved to newer locations, it may spread asbestos fibres, while stockpiled building materials have also been known to contaminate more recently completed structures.
So even with post-2000 sites, it’s always good practice to remain vigilant about the possible presence of asbestos. That’s especially the case if older equipment is brought in or if a newer premises is built on existing basements, or is otherwise connected with neighbouring buildings.
Why Is It So Important To Dispose of ACMs Safely?
According to the current legislation and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance, ACMs in good condition, and which are unlikely to be damaged or disturbed, can simply be left.
However, when any material appears to be ageing, or is looking damaged, or has renovation work taking place close to it, it’s time to call in the professionals for an asbestos survey to assess the level of risk present and to know what remedial action should be taken.
ACMs must be disposed of safely because when they are disturbed, this releases fibres into the air which can, over time, cause serious diseases to develop if the fibres are inhaled. Potential problems include asbestosis, asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and pleural thickening, where the lining of the lung thickens and swells, causing discomfort in the chest and shortness of breath.
How Do I Dispose of ACMs Safely?
Unless you know what you’re doing, it’s not a good idea to try and dispose of ACMs yourself – and they certainly can’t just be dumped, in the manner mentioned above. The best way to ensure safe disposing of asbestos-containing materials is to use a professional asbestos testing company that has the expertise, training and equipment needed to do the job properly.
Looking For An Asbestos Consultant Company?
At Core Surveys, we’re asbestos testing specialists and can identify ACMs with our asbestos surveys in residential and commercial sites. Although we can’t actually remove the ACMS ourselves, we can identify this deadly substance and point you in the right direction – and identification is the vital first step.
As well as asbestos testing, our services include bulk sampling, refurbishment and demolition surveys, air testing, asbestos management and training.
Give us a call today, whatever it is you need.