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Asbestos information leaflet

Asbestos is a natural mineral made up of many small fibres. There are three main types – blue, brown and white.

Asbestos has been widely used in both building materials and household products. Some of the more common uses are listed below

  • Cold-water cisterns
  • Window boxes
  • Cladding on roofs and walls
  • Flat roofs
  • Flues and gutters
  • Rainwater downpipes
  • Roof slates and roofing tiles
  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Boiler flues
  • Textured coatings such as artex
  • Asbestos cement panels used to build garages and sheds
  • Walls and roofs
  • Clutch and brake linings
  • Storage heaters
  • Ironing boards
  • Central-heating insulation

Asbestos and asbestos products which are not likely to be damaged should be sealed and left in place. (Removal may cause more problems by releasing fibres.) You can do this by painting, but do not rub down surfaces.

  • Do not drill, sand, cut or in any way disturb asbestos.
  • If there is any asbestos that is damaged or can easily be dismantled you should have it removed by a licensed contractor.
  • If any dust may contain asbestos, it should only be removed with an industrial vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency filter or by wiping with a damp cloth which is disposed of in a sealed bag while still damp. This should be carried out by a specialist removal company.
  • Some appliances containing asbestos may be marked with a warning label or sticker.
  • If you hire a specialist removal contractor, they must keep to all current regulations, codes of practice and safe-working procedures. You should ask to see a copy of their licence and insurance certificate.
  • As a guide, any person who works with asbestos will wear proper overalls, a hood and a respirator. Depending on the work involved, and the type of asbestos being removed, the contractor may need to provide enclosures and other facilities to protect the surrounding area. After the work, they should arrange for an independent analyst to make sure the area is clean.
  • Asbestos is dangerous, but is less dangerous if it is in good condition and left alone.
  • If you discover what you think is asbestos, contact us for advice.
  • Do not do DIY without getting professional advice first.
  • Do not put asbestos waste in the dustbin.

What to do

If you are not sure whether there is asbestos in your home or you want advice about asbestos, leave the material alone and get advice from:

  • a licensed asbestos-removal company
  • the Health and Safety Executive

The Health and Safety Executive, and the Environmental Health Officer cannot visit your home to identify asbestos.

Essex County Council
Waste & Recycling Helpline
0345 603 7625

Call to ask for up to 40 kg of bonded asbestos to be collected and disposed of free of charge. (Bonded asbestos is asbestos that is combined with another material such as cement. Some examples of bonded asbestos products are listed in this leaflet.)

Further information

You can find a local licensed asbestos removal company by contacting the Asbestos Removal Contracts Association (ARCA).
Phone: 01283 566467

You will also find companies listed in The Phone Book and directories such as Yellow Pages