What is asbestos?
Asbestos was used widely to make building materials more rigid and fire resistant from the 1950s until mid 1980s. It was banned in 1999.
Asbestos in the environment
Asbestos fibres are present in the environment. Most people are exposed to very low levels of fibres.
Inhaling high quantities of fibres increases the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. You could increase your chances of getting this type of disease if you:
- work on or near damaged asbestos-containing materials
- inhale levels of asbestos fibres many hundreds of times higher than environmental levels
Often disease symptoms don't appear for 20 or 30 years after exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos in your home
You might find asbestos in some of areas of your home including:
- eaves, soffits, gutters and rainwater fall pipes
- garage and shed roofs
- linings for walls, ceilings and doors
- insulation panels in some storage heaters
- bath panels
- central heating flues
- floor tiles
Identifying asbestos in your home
It can be difficult to identify asbestos in your home. You might need to employ a surveyor or skilled contractor who can take a sample or survey the premises.
If you're concerned about asbestos in your home:
- leave the asbestos untouched as it's safe unless damaged or disturbed
- don't insert drawing pins, screws or nails or apply adhesive tape as this could release asbestos fibres in the air
- don't sand, drill or saw asbestos materials
- always seek professional advice before removing asbestos materials
- ask a licensed contractor to remove asbestos lagging, spray coatings or insulation board as they can safely remove these materials
- ask a skilled contractor to remove asbestos cement or asbestos vinyl floor tiles
Disposing of asbestos
You must not put asbestos in household waste or recycling collections. Only sites licensed by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency can accept asbestos waste.
You may be able to employ a contractor who is licensed to collect asbestos with a consignment note from you. If you are a homeowner not acting for commercial gain, you can arrange asbestos disposal with a licensed hazardous waste disposal site.
Homeowners concerned about asbestos
If you are a homeowner concerned about asbestos in your home or need advice, contact the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) Asbestos Advisory Service:
You can also contact the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)'s hazardous waste unit:
- telephone 028 9056 9710
Housing Executive tenants
If you are a Housing Executive tenant concerned about asbestos in your home or need further advice, contact the Housing Executive (NIHE).
- telephone 03448 920900
- advice about asbestos (NIHE website)
Tenants in private rented accommodation
If you are a tenant in a private rented property concerned about asbestos in your home, contact your landlord or letting agency.