Asbestos - what do you do?

Hi people,
Just wondering... I've removed an old board that was covering a fireplace in my flat. On the front of the chimney breast, underneath about 6 layers of old wallpaper, I've exposed a small corner of a quite soft, crumbly, dark grey material. I don't know how far in it goes, because I stopped stripping the paper when I saw it.
Any possibility this contains asbestos? The flats were built in the 40's or 50's (I think), so the timing could be right.
More to the point, how do I get it checked out?
Thanks for any advice!
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OhDear wrote:

Put a mask on, rip it out, put it in a black plastic bag and chuck it in the bin, or bury it.
One exposure once won't kill you./
Asbestos- especailly teh sort normally used - is not really dangerous. Unless you wok in a factory full of the stuff as dust.
Think cigarettes. Walking past someone smoking in a room won't kill you.
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Other good precautions are to soak it with water / washing up liquid and only handle it wet, or spray with dilute unibond and allow to dry. To be a really good boy, double bag in strong poly bags (not flimsy bin liners). Phone your local tip and see if they take it: if they do, they will have a special skip.
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...

There is one case that suggests it could - a workman who once helped unload a lorry carrying asbestos sheet and who had no other known contact with the stuff.
Colin Bignell
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nightjar@?.?.invalid writes

I'm sure the are other cases.
Asbestos is not a cumulative poison, all it takes is one fibre and a bit of bad luck.
Of course persistent exposure increases the likelihood of the disease occurring because you ingest many more fibres.
this is unlike say smoking where the cumulative affect of the different poisons is important. Which is why if you stop smoking the risk of many of the related disease drops over time as you body gets ride of various of the chemicals.
This was important in an insurance court case a few years ago where asbestos workers had claimed compensation from a company. A number of workers who had worked in two or more factories (different companies) dealing with asbestos in Leeds were refused compensation because it was argued it wasn't known exactly which factory the exact particle which had caused the disease was from.
Eventually the high court, or the HOL or somewhere saw sense and found for them and they got their money
--
Chris French, Leeds

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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

Whilst I agree with your general argument. I think the above should read: Once is very very unlikely to kill you. As one poster pointed out safe and dangerous are not absolute. The phrase "It's safe" really means (IMHO) "It's no more dangerous than everything else in life."
I think that at that period plaster was often grey, anyway.

--
Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
The FAQ for uk.diy is at www.diyfaq.org.uk
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On Sat, 5 Jul 2003 11:57:35 +0100, "John Ormiston"

Actually it is substantially correct. Although there is no minimum safe exposure level for Asbestos there is an exposure/risk relationship and one exposure is most unlikely to be harmful. Moreover the material is probably white asbestos (Chrysotile) for which the risk is considerably less than for blue or brown asbestos.
http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/meso.htm
In 2001 1600 people died of mesothelioma in the UK, the worst case estimate is that 160 of these might be related to Chrysotile exposure (compared with about 100 "spontaneous" cases which cannot be related to asbestos exposure). Most of the cases come from workers in shipbuilding; railway carriage building and the installation and maintenance of lagging or other insulation materials in buildings or industrial plant. Male mesothelioma deaths are concentrated in the regions around the ports and dockyards. The gap between exposure and disease developing is usually long - about 20 - 40 years, so present death rates reflect exposure conditions in the 70's.

It is possible, though very unlikely, that it might. The best thing to do is leave the material undisturbed. If it must be moved, or if it is likely to be damaged if left where it is you need to balance the risk against the cost. For a small amount, removal with a few sensible precautions such as those already mentioned represents a extremely small hazard.

Unfortunately this is likely to be a very expensive option. The government are so concerned by the risk that they make you pay all the costs of removal yourself and if you ask the local authority to test the stuff they may insist upon its removal by certified firms. Asbestos removal is the waste industries answer to the goose that lays golden eggs and a certified company would charge many hundreds, if not a few thousand, pounds to remove your little bit of board.
I'm also not convinced it is pure asbestos sheet you have. It is difficult to see why pure asbestos sheet, which is very fragile would be used in a house at all, much less in the position you describe.
It is much more likely to be asbestos cement sheet, which contains about 10% of chrysotile and for which DIY removal is perfectly safe.
<http://www.alnwick.gov.uk/alnwick/council.nsf/pages/Asbestos122231.html?OpenDocument&Start=1&Count00&ExpandView> <http://www.ealing.gov.uk/services/pollution+control/asbestos.pdf.> <http://www.york.gov.uk/environment/waste/asbestos1.html>
are some examples of local authority guidance on DIY removal of asbestos cement sheet.
--
Peter Parry.
http://www.wpp.ltd.uk/
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This is a silly thread. No one in their right mind would take as fact these days what doctors used to tell their patients in the 70's. Doctors have a license to kill babies and they are not held to all that much account for senior citizens.
They (as a class not as individuals) used to think they were gods when it came to informing patients about their illnesses.
A proper autopsy would need to be carried out by a very knowledgeable bloke indeed to find out that there was only one fibre present and that no more were removed by any means, natural or otherwise before death. And who is to say where and when a man came into contact with anything in the past?
If the sheet doesn't need removing, leave it. But you are not going to leave the 6 layers of wall paper are you? Find out what the council is going to charge you if you bite the bullet. And remember you only found one piece. There may be others.
You had better have a word with your neighbours too as they may find themselves in the "it" with you. Do the groundwork first and be very circumspect.
Asbestolux is a similar looking board that contains about 10 to 15% asbestos. Mind you I think that might be on the banned list by now too. A Google search on websites (specify: UK) will get you more advice.
I hope things work out OK.
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John Ormiston wrote:

Prove it.

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Hello OhDear

Check the FAQ, I'm pretty sure it's got a link to the government advice about asbestos, which doesn't contain the usual hysteria.
--
Simon Avery, Dartmoor, UK
uk.d-i-y FAQ: http://www.diyfaq.org.uk /
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wrote:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am very dubious about the asbestos cleaning industry...........you could end up with a room full of guys in while cover all suits and be charged a fortune....on the other hand you could be introuble with just one exposure if fine particles get into air and then into you!
my view would be to follow the previous advice seal it or wet it double bag it and take it to a tip that will accept it .Buy a second hand hoover and bin it after clearing up. Or as a surveyer said to me once..........if you are not going to disturb it ....and dont need to.... leave it alone. make a good job of coving it up .
good luck, its a bit of a dilemma
Barry
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Barry wrote:

I suspect the OP may have got the job finished by now. But you never know!
(yes, I've had jobs take longer...)
NT
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If he's anything like me he'll still be pondering about it. I started my bathroom refurb in 2001 and I'm still trying to decide on the flooring. My excuse is if you're enjoying doing something, why not savour it and make it last out as long as you can :)
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Peter Taylor wrote:

Besides, whilst the bathroom remains unfinished you can't really be expected to start on the kitchen :-)
Owain
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There was an article on "You and Yours", Radio 4, last week about how the asbestos clearing industry is a complete rip-off. There was also an expert on asbestos health issues who pointed out that 90% of the asbestos products removed in these rip-off jobs have never been known to cause a single case of any asbestos-related disease, and just don't merit anything like the fuss people make over them.
This was sparked off by a mother who rung up the HSE (or might have been some other government body -- didn't catch that detail) to ask what might be the effect on her son who had been kicking a football against the wall of an asbestos sheet garage. They told her he could become ill in 10 to 30 years, which understandably had left her extremely worried. The advice was completely inappropriate and irresponsible.
--
Andrew Gabriel

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Andrew Gabriel wrote:

Regrettably people whose job is safety can sometimes lose all perspective. I see this with electrical matters, where trivial things are sometimes claimed to be dangerous by safety inspectors, despite the fact that the death rate from them is zero. A slightly leaky immersion heater is a classic example. When theyre in a position of complete authority, it seems theres no-one to question their ever creeping judgements and bring them back to reality when they stray.
NT
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