What Are the Risks of Asbestos in the Home?

Asbestos in Home

Asbestos was a popular building material until it was banned in the UK in the year 2000. Buildings constructed or renovated prior to that date could contain asbestos, including residential properties. Asbestos was commonly used in insulation, flooring, and roofing, and was also sprayed onto ceilings and walls. But what are the risks of having asbestos in the home and how do you know if your property contains asbestos?

The Health Hazards of Asbestos Exposure

When asbestos is damaged or disturbed, it releases tiny fibres which are then breathed into the lungs. This can lead to serious health conditions, many of which take years to develop and can be fatal.

Tradespeople who worked in the construction industry prior to 2000 are most at risk of asbestos-related health issues, but people completing DIY projects at home could also inadvertently be exposed to asbestos, particularly when modernising an older property.

Exposure to Asbestos Can Cause Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, called the pleura, and is mainly caused by breathing in asbestos fibres. These fibres get lodged in the lungs where they cause irritation, which in some cases can lead to mesothelioma.

People usually develop the first symptoms of mesothelioma 30 to 40 years after asbestos exposure, which is why it continues to affect people today despite asbestos being banned in the UK more than 20 years ago. Because mesothelioma is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, the prognosis is generally poor.

Heavier Asbestos Exposure Can Cause Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a non-cancerous, long-term lung condition that is triggered by excessive exposure to asbestos. It is more common in those who have breathed in a considerable amount of asbestos dust during their work and often develops 20 to 30 years after exposure.

When asbestos fibres become lodged inside the lungs, scarring and thickening can develop around the air sacs, making it difficult for oxygen to reach the bloodstream. This can cause the lungs to shrink and harden and cause persistent shortness of breath. There is currently no cure for asbestosis and the lung damage cannot be reversed.

Asbestos-related Lung Cancer

Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, which is the growth of cancerous cells inside the lungs which form a tumour. Smoking is also a risk factor for lung cancer, so smokers who have also been exposed to asbestos are at a greater risk of developing this type of cancer.

What to Do After Exposure to Asbestos

If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos while renovating your home, consult your GP as soon as possible and report any symptoms that you are experiencing. Although the risk of asbestos-related health problems is greatest in tradespeople who suffered long-term exposure to asbestos as part of their work, some residential properties may still contain asbestos that can be disturbed during DIY.

How to Detect Asbestos in Your Home

If your home was built or renovated before 2000, there is a chance that it may contain asbestos. Common locations for asbestos in residential properties include insulation in the walls, loft, or beneath floorboards, vinyl floor tiles, and decorative ceiling coatings like Artex. Roofs, gutters, and window panels in an older property could also contain asbestos.

Explore the common signs your home might have asbestos present and, if in doubt, contact IES to arrange an asbestos survey.

Speak to the Specialists

IES Group are asbestos removal specialists and have extensive experience of removing asbestos from residential properties. If you think your home might contain asbestos, call 0116 288 0000 for expert advice from our team.