Asbestos

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Introduction

This aim of this policy statement is to outline Estates Services' arrangements for managing asbestos within the University.  It is also the intention to provide University staff with an overview of why asbestos exists within the University fabric, how it is managed, and who to contact should they have any concerns.  The information contained within this document will remain live for the purpose of updating and providing new information where necessary.

Many of the buildings within the University will have Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) present in their fabric as this material was commonly used in construction until the mid-1980s. Estates Services is responsible for the management of ACMs and will ensure every effort will be made to minimise the risk to staff, students, visitors, and contractors by effectively managing and controlling work where ACMs are present.

It is important to stress that where ACM’s are in good condition and remain undisturbed they do not present a risk to health.  Providing the asbestos is well maintained it does not present any hazard to health.

What is Asbestos

Asbestos is the collective term used to describe several types of naturally occurring mineral rock.  Rather than being a man-made substance as people may have thought, asbestos was actually mined in several countries throughout the world. The three principal types of asbestos are

  • crocidolite (blue)
  • amosite (brown)
  • chrysotile (white)

All ACMs have the potential to cause harmful effects if their fibers are inhaled. If the asbestos is in good condition and properly managed then there little chance of fibers being released therefore it is unlikely to pose a risk to health.

Why buildings contain Asbestos

Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the UK from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s.  It was used for a variety of purposes and was ideal for fireproofing and insulation.  Any building built before 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc) can potentially contain asbestos.

Asbestos materials in good condition are safe unless asbestos fibers become airborne, which happens when materials are damaged.

Within the University, asbestos can be found in:

  • thermal insulation - on pipes and boilers
  • insulation boards - for fire protection, as thermal and acoustic insulation on walls, ceilings and structural steelwork
  • sprayed coatings - for fire protection on structural steelwork
  • ropes and yarns - as a sealing material or for filling gaps
  • asbestos cement - in wall claddings, partitions, roofing, or guttering.

Asbestos may also be present in laboratories, inside old equipment such as ovens, furnaces, and autoclaves; or as heat resistant mats.

Useful photographs showing typical ACMs may be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/gallery.htm