What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural material made up of small fibres and it was widely used in the building industry from 1930 to around 1980, and particularly from the 1960s onwards, the time when large parts of Milton Keynes were being built. The use of asbestos containing materials was banned in 2000.

The most common forms of Asbestos are Chrysolite, Amosite and Crocidolite, commonly known as white, brown and blue asbestos. However, a full laboratory analysis is required to identify asbestos accurately.

Cllr Irene Henderson, Cabinet member for Housing, said:

"At the time many MK estates were built, asbestos was a commonly-used construction material. Asbestos is not a problem if it remains undisturbed, and in the great majority of homes it is sealed in, painted over or out of the way.


"We have a work programme in place and we will be securing funding for whatever works are needed. We are dealing with the worst affected homes quickly. There is also a long-term rolling programme to deal with the others."

We are now contacting tenants of properties where asbestos has been found and where we need to take action as a high priority because the asbestos has been damaged in some way.

It’s unlikely that the levels of asbestos fibres found in our housing will be harmful, but we don’t want to take any chances.

Most of the high priority work we have found relates to insulation panels, lagging and cement coatings and this is mainly in cupboards and bin stores or behind boilers.

We are also checking similar properties to those we have looked at so far see if they have similar problems. We expect to find that in many cases there won’t be any evidence of damage and only regular inspection will be required.

Asbestos Surveys

Having to deal with asbestos is not new. The Council identify and remove or make safe asbestos as a normal part of our repair work and improvement programmes.

In 2004 visual inspection surveys were carried out on a representative sample of Council houses to provide the basis for our Asbestos Register.

On 29th January 2010, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) changed the surveying legislation and an asbestos management survey is now required whenever works such as Decent Homes improvements are carried out.

For more extensive works or demolition works a refurbishment/demolition survey is required which is a more detailed type of survey. Details of the survey regime can be found in the Asbestos Management Plan.

The information from the surveys will be used to update the Asbestos Register which allows the Council to ensure that residents, staff and contractors are safe in the properties.

Where is asbestos used and found in buildings?

Asbestos containing materials are commonly found in the following places, but this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Loose asbestos packed between floors and into partition walls as insulation.
  • Lagging on pipe-work, boilers, calorifiers and heat exchangers.
  • Ceiling tiles, floor tiles, fire breaks, heater cupboards, door panels, left-shaft linings and fire surrounds.
  • Roof and wall cladding, bath panels, boiler panels, gutters, rainwater pipes, fascias and soffits.

Most of the products listed above are also made with non-asbestos materials and so will not cause any problems.

What are the risks associated with Asbestos?

The health risks of asbestos are now much better understood, and provided the asbestos materials are in good condition and cannot be easily damaged, the overall risk to health is low

There is only a very small risk of anyone coming into contact with asbestos in the home or public buildings. The presence of asbestos in any particular property will depend upon a range of factors. Asbestos-related illness is linked to high concentrations of asbestos dust in the air that can be inhaled. Such instances are generally associated with industries where people have worked with asbestos as part of their job for many years.

Short-term exposure to concentrated levels of asbestos fibres may occur during DIY or similar work if materials containing asbestos are sanded-down, drilled or sawn.The risk can be minimised by common-sense measures such as using a suitable face-mask.

The HSE have a number of leaflets on working with asbestos.

What can the Council do if I think there is asbestos in my house?

The information on the likely location of asbestos materials in council residential properties is held in the Council’s Asbestos Register which is available to anyone.

If you have any concerns prior to carrying out DIY or any work being done in your home by non-council employed workmen, you can seek general advice by calling the Asbestos Helpline.

REMEMBER: Asbestos-containing materials that are in good condition and which are not disturbed present no risks and do not need removing.

Asbestos Helpline: 0800 043 6635

Please note that calls are only free when you call on a landline. If you ring this number from a mobile you will get a message reminding you that you will be charged for calls and asking you to redial, but without the using the first 0 (ie. you need to dial : 800 035 0087).
Unit 4 The Office Village Sandpiper Court, Oil Sites Road, Ellesmere Port, CH65 4EY

Last Updated: 17 July 2018