Asbestos advice

We do not provide a service for the identification, removal or disposal of asbestos.

The Health and Safety Executive is the responsible body for asbestos regulation.

Most asbestos enquires we receive relate to asbestos cement products, such as corrugated roofing and wall panels, down pipes and gutters. These products are generally not subject to regulation by the HSE and are allowed to continue in situ until the end of their useful life.

Asbestos cement (‘bonded asbestos’)

Asbestos cement is cement mixed with some white (chrysotile) asbestos fibres. Usually the asbestos makes up 15-30% of the cement matrix. This produces a hard grey material.

Asbestos cement roofs

These are mainly made up of large sheets of corrugated asbestos cement; they are often found on industrial or farmyard buildings, but can also be found as roofs on garages and sheds. They are often covered in moss and other growths as they’ve been there for many years. If they are in good condition, there is no need to remove them. If they are starting to deteriorate, it may be possible to seal them with paint or take advice on safe removal.

Asbestos wall cladding

This has a shape and structure similar to roof sheeting, and is often found on walls/as walls of buildings with asbestos cement roofs.

Asbestos downpipes and gutters

These are often attached at the end of cement roofs in warehouse type buildings or agricultural buildings.

Asbestos cement flues

Often found in boiler systems (including domestic) air conditioning and ventilation systems.

Asbestos cement and pitch fibre water and sewer pipes

Drainage pipes, such as water and sewage pipes, were often made of pitch fibre. This is a lightweight and easy to handle material, made of wood cellulose impregnated with inert coal tar pitch. Asbestos cement was added to strengthen the material.

Is a licensed contractor required to work with or remove asbestos cement?

Work on asbestos cement products in most cases does not need a licensed contractor. Although working with any type of asbestos can be dangerous, with asbestos cement this is much less so, provided it is handled correctly.

Work can be carried out by non-licensed contractors who employ a safe method of work. This work would generally not need to be notified to the HSE. Advice is available from the HSE how to carefully work with asbestos cement products, such as keeping the area being worked on damp, avoid breaking up the cement and sealing up the cement in plastic wrapping.

If the work is likely to cause significant break up and deterioration of the material such as smashing up the asbestos cement into pieces, then notification to the HSE would be required. Bear in mind that this is for employees or contractors not for individual householders, as the HSE only regulate health and safety at work. The notification process is just that, it is not a requirement for licensed contractors.

There may be very exceptional circumstances where the asbestos cement has been so badly damaged that there is significant risk of exposure to asbestos fibres. In these cases, a risk assessment will help to determine if a licensed contractor is required. Please visit the HSE website for details of Licensable work with asbestos (external link)

The HSE’s Managing and working with asbestos (external link) pages provides a number of task sheets which will show you how to safely carry out non-licensed work on asbestos cement products.

How do you know if it is asbestos cement?

A competent asbestos analyst will be able to determine this for you. We do not provide this service.

Disposal of asbestos cement

The household waste sites in East Sussex are operated by East Sussex County Council. Please visit their Where to recycle (external link) pages to find your nearest site that accepts asbestos (bonded) cement. Here you will also find the requirements of packaging up the waste for disposal before the site will accept it.

Further information

If you require further information regarding asbestos and its regulation, visit the HSE’s Asbestos health and safety pages.