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Asbestos Cement is an asbestos containing material consisting of asbestos mineral fibres (usually Chrysotile but sometimes crocidolite and amosite) which was mixed with cement during manufacture. It is most commonly found on roofs and gable ends on garages, outbuildings, farm buildings, commercial premises and homes. The product has also been used on roofing soffits, ceilings, heating flues, waste water goods, water tanks and some other materials.
Although considered a relatively low risk form of asbestos product, asbestos cement must still be considered as hazardous and dealt with in accordance to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
Asbestos Cement offered a less brittle product that cement alone, and adding asbestos fibres to the material mean that it could be made into thinner sheets than cement alone, thus retaining some of its strength. This made it a cheap material to use in building, especially after World War II in the construction of temporary pre-fab buildings.
It also had fire retardant properties and was impermeable to water, making it a useful material. Sadly, the dangers of asbestos would later be revealed as the cause of serious illnesses such as asbestosis.
Asbestos cement is a very durable product, and left alone in a good state of repair poses no risk. However, if asbestos cement is broken or damaged you may like to consider having it removed.
Removal of asbestos cement products isn’t usually a licensed activity. However, you must never drill, scrape or break it.
No. This is against the law. If found reusing asbestos products, you could be prosecuted and liable to a hefty fine.
A professional will usually be able to tell if a product is asbestos cement, but the only way to be entirely sure if a product contains asbestos is to have it professionally tested. If removal of asbestos cement is carried out as per these rules, it will not usually fall into the category where it must be notified to the enforcing authority (HSE or Local Authority, depending on the premises) this would only happen if there was likely to be exposure beyond the “action level” given in the Regulations.
Some other forms of asbestos are extremely hazardous and should not be removed within the proper care and licensing. If in doubt, contact a licensed asbestos company.