Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, found in rock, which can break into very tiny pieces, small enough to be inhaled. If these fibres are inhaled in very large quantities, they can get stuck in the lungs and in some cases cause disease and cancer. Before it was discovered that asbestos was harmful to humans it was widely used in the building industry for many years. If there is asbestos in your home, this does not automatically mean that it is a problem - asbestos can only affect your health if it becomes damaged, as it could then release harmful fibres into the air around you.
It is, therefore, very important that our tenants work with us to make sure that asbestos is not unknowingly disturbed. They should do this by:
- Requesting permission from North Devon Homes prior to undertaking any improvement works, DIY or any other works that may disturb the internal or external fabric of the building, including outbuildings
- Providing access for the purposes of asbestos surveys as well as allowing access for any asbestos removal works deemed necessary
- Notifying North Devon Homes of any damage to the fabric of the building as soon as possible
One of the most common uses of asbestos was in textured coating on ceilings and walls, and it was also widely used in cement products and insulation boarding. This diagram shows where asbestos products are most commonly found in houses built before 2000:
Undisturbed and in good condition, these products pose no risk to people’s health and are best left where they are. If you are concerned that asbestos in your home may have become damaged, or are planning to carry out or commission any works, then please contact us.
For more information please read our Asbestos leaflet.
There are two types of asbestos survey that we may carry out to your home: Management surveys and Refurbishment surveys. Most properties are given a Management survey, which will identify most suspected asbestos, and provides enough information for planned maintenance works or repairs that will be carried out.
However, sometimes the proposed works will need information about an area that was not accessed during the initial survey, such as behind the bath panel or within boxing, and this is when a second survey may be requested. We do not carry out full Refurbishment surveys at all properties as they can leave unsightly damage to areas of your home, eg to painted walls. We therefore aim to carry out Refurbishment surveys on an as required basis to minimise possible inconvenience to our customers. In addition, a second survey may be required if the previous one was carried out over five years ago, as the regulations governing the management of asbestos have changed since this time.
What should you do if any materials you believe might contain asbestos are damaged?
Remain calm, vacate the immediate area of the damaged material and contact North Devon Homes straight away on 01271 312500 or 0800 9170619 during hours when the office is not open. Do not try to repair or clear up the damage. Do not try to brush or vacuum up the material because further disturbance to the fibres could increase health risks.