Asbestos is a traditional building material which has been used for many years. Over the years the type and quality of the material and its form of construction have changed and some asbestos materials are more “acceptable” than others. Some modern forms of asbestos cement products are good and hard with the asbestos encapsulated within the cement and in sound condition do not constitute a health risk but broken, flaky or loose materials can be dangerous. No matter how good the material looks it should never be cut, drilled or damaged in any way.
Many local authority amenity tips now refuse to accept any asbestos based materials and for disposal you must contact the local authority. Some asbestos cement products can be disposed of by householders but in a controlled manner whilst other types of asbestos materials must be removed and disposed of by licensed contractors. Even the disposal of small amounts of material will be costly.
It is sensible to accept that asbestos as a material has now gained a “bad” reputation with the general public who view all types and ages of the material as equally dangerous even though this may be technically wrong. In view of this general attitude you should consider replacing asbestos materials whenever the opportunity arises. The general policy with asbestos cement materials in a sound condition is to leave well alone or to paint them. It is only when they are broken, drilled or cut that they can cause problems. Asbestos was used in textured ceiling finishes up to the mid 1980’s and the sensible precaution if drilling into or cutting such materials is to wear a mask and clean up all dust as the works take place.
Many people do not realise that Artex textured ceiling finishes do contain asbestos. It can be present from the 1960s through to the early 1990s; it is best left in situ. It should certainly never be sanded or scraped. One of the best ways is to encapsulate it by skimming a ceiling over to give a flat finish.
Sensible, clear advise can be obtained from the Asbestos Information Centre: Asbestos in Artex