Asbestos Disposal in the UK

by | May 25, 2021 | Chemical recycling and disposal

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Asbestos poses a great risk to human health and safety, it is counted as hazardous waste, and you could be unaware if there is asbestos in your home or business premises and not know how to deal with asbestos. Exposure to asbestos may be very dangerous under certain circumstances. Asbestos-related diseases still occur today despite the material being banned before the year 2000. This shows the threat it still poses to human health and environmental health and that we have a duty to manage asbestos safely. The following article we have put together will help you understand critical factors about asbestos and why asbestos removal is important and how we can help you with the disposal of hazardous waste, including asbestos.

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What is Asbestos and Why is Asbestos Disposal Important?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral. There are six types, all of which are composed of long and thin fibrous crystals, each fibre being composed of many microscopic “fibrils” that can be released into the atmosphere by abrasion and other processes.

Asbestos definition, Wikipedia

Different types of rock contain asbestos. It is most commonly found in three rock types:

  • Altered ultramafic rocks
  • Serpentinites
  • Mafic rocks

Other rocks could contain asbestos as well, such as:

  • Carbonatites
  • Metamorphosed dolostones
  • Metamorphosed iron formations
  • Alkalic intrusions

Asbestos materials were used widely in the construction industry as well as many others up until the 1990s, so they were handling asbestos without any health and safety measures. They used this asbestos containing materials because asbestos is heat resistant, strong, fireproof, and chemical resistant, so it was mixed with other materials, making identifying asbestos now quite difficult. It was a versatile material with many uses before people began to realise how dangerous the fibres in asbestos are for human health and environmental health.

What are the Different Types of Asbestos When Conducting Asbestos Disposal?

There are six types of asbestos fibres, although three are commonly used in the UK:

  • Chrysotile or white asbestos – This is the most commonly used form of asbestos. This asbestos was usually used in walls, floor tile, roofs, and ceilings. Manufacturers also used chrysotile asbestos for gaskets and boiler seals, brake linings, and asbestos insulation for ducts, pipes, and appliances. The UK banned this type of asbestos in 1999.
  • Amosite or brown asbestos – This type of asbestos was usually used in pipe insulation and cement sheets. It has also been found in ceiling tiles and floor tile, asbestos insulation such as asbestos insulating boards, and thermal insulation products.
  • Crocidolite or blue asbestos – This type of asbestos was used to insulate steam engines. It was also found in some plastics, pipe insulation, sprayed coating on materials, and asbestos cement. The UK banned this type of asbestos in 1970.

The other three types of asbestos are anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. However, the county council have said these were used in small quantities or contaminants of chrysotile asbestos. Although some types of asbestos are more dangerous than others, they are all dangerous, so waste collection and waste disposal are the best options.

asbestos roof

Where is Asbestos Found?

As mentioned before, asbestos is commonly found in buildings older than the year 2000. Examples of things that contain asbestos are walls, floor tile, roofs and ceilings, gaskets and boiler seals, brake linings and insulation for ducts, pipes, and appliances, spray-on coatings, and cement bonded asbestos sheeting products.

Other examples of where asbestos waste is found include:

  • Lagging – located in or on heating systems such as calorifiers or around boilers and pipework.
  • Asbestos Insulating Board – mainly used for fireproofing, but also found in lift shaft linings, partition walls, ceiling tiles, panels below windows, fireproofing panels in fire doors, and soffits.
  • Roofing Felt
  • Textiles – can be found in fuse boxes behind the actual fuse, heat-resistant gloves, and old fire blankets.
  • Composites – examples of these are bath panels, window sills, toilet cisterns, and seats.

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Who is Most at Risk From Asbestos Outside of Asbestos Disposal and Removal Related Activities?

Suppose you have worked in an industry that dealt with asbestos fibres from the 1970s to 1990s, such as construction and building work, ship-building, or insulation work. In that case, you could have been subjected to exposure to asbestos. However, there are other jobs where asbestos exposure could have been possible. High-risk occupations for exposure to asbestos include general maintenance workers, electricians, plasterers, demolition workers, building surveyors, plumbers, painters and decorators, heating and ventilation engineers, roofers, gas fitters, and many more.

You could also be exposed to asbestos if you live with a worker in the high-risk occupations mentioned above. This is because asbestos fibres can be carried on clothing, where family members could breathe them in. Other than this, it is unlikely that you would be exposed to asbestos.

People older than 65 in the UK most commonly die from asbestos-related diseases from coming into contact with asbestos waste. However, there have been younger people diagnosed due to secondhand exposure to asbestos. According to the British Lung Foundation men make up around 80% of people receiving mesothelioma diagnosis in the UK. Women are more commonly exposed to asbestos waste indirectly, such as coming into contact with people who worked with asbestos materials or living near asbestos factories.

asbestos construction building roof

What are the Health Risks of Asbestos Disposal or Removal Done Wrong?

Asbestos is a very dangerous fibre that can cause many health problems, mainly lung conditions according to medical surveillance. Non-malignant pleural disease is one health risk. This is not a cancerous condition but still poses serious health risks.

The pleural disease includes:

  • Pleural Plaques – these are calcified buildups that occur on the pleural membrane. Although they are not considered a serious health condition, they can make breathing more difficult and painful if they become thick.
  • Pleural Thickening – this is caused by lesions forming on the pleural lining.
  • Pleural Effusion – this is a collection of fluid around the lungs.

Other health conditions caused by asbestos according to medical surveillance are:

  • Asbestosis is a non-cancerous condition that results in scarring of the lungs. Asbestosis leads to chest tightness and shortness of breath because it prevents the lungs from expanding and relaxing normally.
  • Mesothelioma is a condition that forms in membranes of body cavities. There are different types of mesothelioma depending on where tumors grow in the body. Pleural mesothelioma tumors grow on the lining of the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma tumors are found in the stomach. Pericardial mesothelioma tumors form in the heart. Testicular mesothelioma tumors appear on the testes.
  • COPD – this condition stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Asbestos can increase a person’s risk of developing the condition. COPD weakens the lungs, which could cause a person to be more susceptible to other asbestos-related diseases.
  • Asbestos-related cancers include lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer.
  • Cancers linked to asbestos exposure include pharyngeal cancer, colon cancer, and stomach cancer.

These examples of medical conditions due to asbestos show why it is important to get a licensed contractor to conduct the appropriate risk assessments.

Asbestos Disposal DIY: Can I Remove Asbestos By Myself?

Asbestos collections aren’t like dealing with standard household waste such as food waste. It can be difficult identifying asbestos because it is usually mixed with other materials. Due to the dangerous nature of asbestos, specialists to deal with asbestos who can follow asbestos regulations should be contacted to test whether there is asbestos in your home or business. That is unless you commit to training to hold a UK HSE license to remove ‘lower risk’ asbestos containing materials.

It is against the law to attempt handling asbestos without a certification and asbestos training due to the extreme health risks it can cause to you and others around you, the local authority can fine you £20,000 or up to six months in prison. If asbestos products are not disturbed, they do not pose any threat. Still, suppose you think asbestos is in your home or business. In that case, you should contact a certified asbestos surveyor who can run through the asbestos essentials task sheet and get asbestos disposal contractors, so they can dispose of it properly as they will have the appropriate waste carriers license.

asbestos disposal services bins container

How is Asbestos Disposal Conducted?

Asbestos falls under the Hazardous Waste Regulations, which means it requires risk assessments and a specialised cleaning crew and skip hire with site staff should be employed for the disposal of asbestos to ensure all traces of the asbestos fibres are gone. The construction waste can then be taken to recycling centres.

Precautions need to be taken in both asbestos disposal and removal. When heavy power tools are used, such as drills and saws, asbestos materials could be exposed. The area needs to be cleared before any of it is removed to avoid contamination of any furniture, clothing, or any other type of material where the asbestos fibres can settle. Everything else in the room that cannot be removed also needs to be covered entirely and double wrapped using thick polythene plastic sheeting. This double bagging essentially creates a containment area where the place will be airlocked so no asbestos fibres can escape when the asbestos removal begins. This isolation is vital when asbestos removal is taking place because of the potential for asbestos fibres escaping and not following asbestos regulations. An alert sign will be placed outside of the containment area to warn others of the asbestos containing material nearby in order to avoid the spread of fatal diseases.

The team performing the asbestos removal all have to wear protective equipment such as respirators and protective gloves, and boots at all times when in the containment area. Personal protective equipment is not necessary outside of the containment area though.

The next step is the waste disposal.  A sealed skip suitable for asbestos collections will carry the asbestos waste which has a segregated waste carriers for the asbestos fibres. This skip then transports the asbestos safely to a licensed local tip or other disposal site that accepts asbestos and a ‘Waste Consignment Note’ will be filled in and be kept for three years. This asbestos can then be recycled by the recycling centres.

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Waste Recycling Methods in Asbestos Disposal

  • Asbestos can be heated in a sodium hydroxide solution above 1,250 degrees Celsius which breaks down the asbestos. The asbestos fibres in this process produces a type of glass which is non-hazardous.
  • A microwave thermal treatment can also be used when disposing of asbestos and then the remnants of the asbestos can be used for porcelain tiles or ceramic bricks.
  • Lastly, another method is to put the asbestos waste in a high-speed mill to be processed down into inert minerals.

What Should You Expect From Inspire Waste Management when it comes to Asbestos Disposal?

By using Inspire Waste Management for our asbestos disposal services, you and your business are correctly and fully following all hazardous waste regulations. Using our services of the disposal of hazardous waste ensures you the satisfaction that your asbestos will be disposed of entirely, safely, and legally.

We are always up-to-date with the latest legislation in Britain to ensure that we can provide you with advice for your legal requirements regarding the disposal of asbestos, including the safe disposal and environmentally safe disposal (in accordance to the UK environment agency) and using personal protective equipment.

How Much Does Asbestos Disposal Cost?

Companies charge different ways, but on average, any hazardous waste, including asbestos disposal, costs between £300 for a ¼ truckload up to £1000 for a full truckload. Asbestos disposal contractors also can charge based on per ton of asbestos waste, which the cost could range from £40 – £600 per ton. Of course, different factors can change the quote given to remove the asbestos, such as:

  • The location of the asbestos waste
  • How dangerous the type of asbestos is
  • How much asbestos needs to be removed


Hire InpireWaste for asbestos disposal

Call 0800 002 9282 or email to contact Inspire Waste Management. We will be happy to provide you with a quote and safe asbestos disposal.

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