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What is asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made up of many small fibres. It has been widely used in the construction industry due its fire resistant properties.

There are three main types of asbestos - blue, brown and white. All of these types can be hazardous to health if dust containing tiny asbestos fibres is breathed in. The tiny asbestos fibres are linked to a number of diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Because of these health risks, asbestos is no longer used as a building material.

Why is asbestos a problem?

When asbestos containing materials, age or become damaged they can release fibres into the air. Due to their very small size these fibres can be breathed deep into the lung where they may stay for a long time, causing possible damage.

What you should do if you find asbestos?

Asbestos containing material which has not been damaged is safe. If you think there may be damaged asbestos materials in your home, look for signs of damage or dust being released by the material. If you find any asbestos that is in good condition and not worn or damaged, it can be left where it is. You can give the asbestos added protection by painting with emulsion paint, but remember to use an alkali-resistant primer or coating for asbestos cement products. Do not saw, drill, break, scrape, brush or screw any asbestos sheeting.

Please remember asbestos is always there for a purpose. It is used either to provide heat resistance (as behind gas fires) or provide strength (as in asbestos cement garage roofs). If it is removed it should always be replaced by a suitable non-asbestos product.

Asbestos removal and disposal

The removal of asbestos containing material is best carried out by accredited asbestos removal specialists.

Should you be minded to remove and dispose of asbestos containing materials yourself there are several precautions that you need to take.

You can dispose of small amounts of asbestos containing materials at several local Household Waste and Recycling Centres (external website) by prior appointment, including the site at High Heavens, High Wycombe.

Further information

For more detailed information about asbestos and its health effects see:


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Contact information

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