Home improvement fans should not attempt to remove dangerous asbestos while taking on DIY tasks this bank holiday, campaigning lawyers have warned.
“The Easter holiday is the traditional start of DIY season,” said John Spencer, president of not-for-profit campaign group the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers(APIL). “But people who discover asbestos while tackling DIY tasks must always call in the experts if it needs to be moved. Asbestos is safe while it is intact, but even a small amount can be extremely dangerous if it is disturbed or damaged.
“April 1-7 is also Global Asbestos Awareness Week, and the message is simple,” he said. “If you find asbestos and it needs to be disturbed, don’t do it yourself.Call in your local council or a licensed tradesperson to help.”
The British Lung Foundation estimates that 14 million houses in the UK – more than half of our homes - could contain asbestos. Asbestos was a popular building material from the 1950s onwards but it was finally banned in 1999.
“Our members are injury lawyers, and many of them help sick and dying people deal with the impact of asbestos when they've been exposed to it at work many years ago,” said John.“But while diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis are often considered tragic legacies of our industrial past, many people don’t realise that asbestos is also present in older buildings such as schools, hospitals and private houses.We don’t want people to put themselves at risk by trying to deal with asbestos themselves.
“Just last week the Government predicted that 53,000 people will die from mesothelioma before 2037,” he went on. “It’s really important that we all know where asbestos could be found in our homes, and then to leave it alone.”
There are many places where people could find asbestos in the home*, including:
· Asbestos cement – typically moulded into corrugated sheets and used as roofing on garages and outhouses.
· Artex– often used on interior ceilings to create textured patterns.
· Asbestos wallboard – these are thin panels of asbestos composite which are used as interior wall plates. Typically, they will sound hollow when knocked on.
· Roofing felt – this is found on flat roofs and is used to waterproof the gap between an exterior brick wall and an outhouse, garage or other flat roof.
· Storage heaters – old storage heaters, both those on wheels and those attached to walls could contain asbestos bricks or briquettes. Homeowners should bear this in mind when disposing of unwanted heater units.