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Where is asbestos found?

This content applies to England & Wales

Where asbestos may be found.

Asbestos is very widespread in its use because it is strong, durable and resistant to heat and fire. Blue and brown asbestos are the most dangerous forms. The asbestos industry introduced a voluntary ban on blue asbestos in 1970 and brown asbestos in 1980. Legislation banned both in 1986.[1] The use of white asbestos was controlled and eventually banned outright in 1999, with some exemptions for particular types of industrial use.[2]

The bans mean that it is illegal to use asbestos in new buildings, but its presence is not illegal in buildings built before the bans were introduced.

Due to its widespread use in the past, particularly in system-built blocks of flats such as tower blocks, asbestos may be found in:

  • roof tiles
  • corrugated roofing
  • wall panels
  • ceiling tiles
  • floor tiles
  • cement fireplace surrounds
  • pipe lagging
  • boiler lagging
  • airing cupboard walls
  • fuse boxes, millboard, paper and paper products used for insulation of electrical equipment
  • rubbish chutes
  • ventilation ducts
  • storage heaters
  • asbestos paper has also been used as a fire-proof facing on wood fibreboard.

The Health and Safety Executive publishes guidance about asbestos, including a leaflet called 'A short guide to managing asbestos in premises', which includes photographs of asbestos.

[1] Asbestos (Prohibitions) Regulations 1985 SI 1985/910.

[2] Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 SI 1999/2373.

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