Following the news that the potentially deadly material is present in more than 5,000 English primary schools, across the 105 local authorities, we look at what asbestos is and what problems it can cause.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that has been a popular building material since the 1950s.
It is used as an insulator (to keep in heat and keep out cold), has good fire protection properties and protects against corrosion.
Asbestos could be present in any building that was built or refurbished before the year 2000. It is in many of the common materials used in the building trade, including ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers and sprayed coatings.
The following are examples of some of the more common uses of asbestos in buildings:
Sprayed coating – found as fire protection on structural supports (for example, columns and beams) – it is a high hazard asbestos product and can generate very high fibre levels if disturbed
Pipe insulation – asbestos thermal pipe lagging is a high hazard asbestos product
Asbestos insulating board (AIB) ceiling and door panels – AIB is a high hazard asbestos product and can generate high levels of fibres if the board is cut or drilled
AIB window panel – like other AIB, this is a high hazard asbestos product, and if in good condition should be left undisturbed
Floor tiles – vinyl (PVC) or thermoplastic tiles contain asbestos
Asbestos cement roof sheeting – asbestos cement sheeting is often found on industrial building roofs and walls