There are a number of household items and construction materials that people are often unsure whether can be thrown into a skip or not, one of these is asbestos.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material which was banned from use in 1999, However, it still exists in many older buildings around the country.
Asbestos is a very resilient material and because of this, it was used in construction and engineering as an insulant and for fireproofing.
The Dangers Of Asbestos
Its use was banned because it is carcinogenic. When asbestos is in any way broken, cracked or disturbed, its microfibres are released into the air.
If a person was to inhale these fibres over an extended period of time, they’d hold a high chance of developing a particularly nasty form of cancer called mesothelioma. Bedding itself in the lining of the lungs, mesothelioma is one of the most cancers in terms of survival rates.
Despite being banned over 17 years ago, there are still more than 2,600 new cases of mesothelioma each year in the UK and over 2,500 deaths as a result of it according to Cancer Research UK.
The reason for this is that unlike many other illnesses or diseases, it takes much longer to develop. In lots cases, it can take anywhere between 20-50 years following initial contact with asbestos for someone to develop mesothelioma.
Those diagnosed with mesothelioma are eligible for compensation, either from their previous employer(under whom they were exposed) or from the UK government.
We spoke to Asbestos Advice Helpline who offer help and advice to those diagnosed with the condition to make mesothelioma compensation claims. They said, “people diagnosed with mesothelioma regularly receive compensation payments of around £115,000 and above.”
“This money can be vital in both progressing a patient’s treatment to help battle the cancer and protect the suffering close family members.”
The disposal of asbestos is tricky business. As mentioned above, it still exists in many older buildings.
While you’d think it would make sense to remove all asbestos from buildings to keeps many people as safe as possible, it can actually prove to be riskier if we attempt to remove it. Providing it isn’t uncovered or already partially cracked, asbestos is better left alone and noted for construction work in the future.
Some types of asbestos must be removed by licensed contractors and some do not. Those that don’t include asbestos based cement, which is particularly durable and therefore less likely to be disturbed. Read more here on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
If, following some home improvements you have some asbestos which need disposing of, it is very important to note it must NOT be disposed of into a conventional skip.
Obviously, you should first consult with any contractors you might have employed to remove it, who should seal the asbestos in protective bags.
Just like other items which shouldn’t be thrown into a skip, asbestos should be taken to your local specialist recycling centre.
You can find the nearest one to you by heading to www.gov.uk/asbestos-in-home and searching your postcode.
Attempting to send asbestos to a regular landfill site could cause serious harm to others, so always do the right thing and find your nearest recycling centre.