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Asbestos and the Renovation Roulette

Thinking of undertaking some DIY home renovations? Before you do, it is important that you consider the potential presence of asbestos in your family home.

One tragic story in the news involved a former surgeon with a penchant for DIY home renovations, whose wife listed the many accomplishments he’d turned his hand to over the years, including building a boat and converting an old school house into a home. Whilst attempting to remove an old central heating boiler as part of some DIY home renovations he discovered the boiler was filled with white asbestos. Unfortunately, he was later diagnosed with Mesothelioma, caused by exposure to the asbestos fibres.

There are three types of asbestos that were frequently used: white, brown and blue. These types of asbestos were used as insulation in many houses from the 1950s to the 1990s before the carcinogenic traits of asbestos were recognised. Even a very small amount of exposure to asbestos dust could sadly cause you to develop Mesothelioma later in life – it can take a minimum of 10 – 20 years for doctors to diagnose.. The number of people diagnosed with Mesothelioma has quadrupled in the last 30 years in the UK; for many their diagnosis will have come so long after the initial exposure to asbestos, it is likely they don’t remember it.

With many buildings in the UK still containing asbestos, keen DIY-ers could be putting themselves at great risk by tackling home renovations without realising. The problem is that many may think that because the use of asbestos ended years ago in the UK, it does not exist anymore. This is not the case. Often asbestos lurks within walls, ceilings, boilers, chimneys dormant as long as it is not disturbed. Without realising the asbestos is there, embarking on a DIY project could result in release asbestos dust thus exposing themselves to the deadly fibres. When exposed to asbestos, the dust can be transported by clinging to hair and clothes. Without due caution when undertaking home renovations, exposure to asbestos could be a genuine threat.

So what precautions can you take?

The British Lung Foundation states that asbestos was no longer used in homes and commercial buildings after 1999.The British Lung Foundation’s campaign, Take 5 To Stay Alive, implores people to take five minutes to question whether their home contains asbestos before digging into home renovations. If your home was built or refurbished before 1999, there is a chance it contains asbestos. Peace of mind can be found in getting an initial survey to check whether asbestos is contained in your home. Even in the event you hire someone else to carry out your renovations, a survey is crucial. It is easy to assume that trades-people such as a local business of labourers or even a better-known renovation company who have worked in renovations for years would carry out necessary precautions in anticipation of asbestos. But by allowing a team of labourers to begin work without the necessary survey and precautions, any asbestos that has been hiding in your walls could be disturbed and put everyone in the house at risk of exposure. It is your responsibility to take the necessary precautions in protecting your house and family from asbestos.

See our seven FAQs about asbestos here.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have a specialist team of Asbestos Compensation Solicitors that deal with Asbestos claims on a No Win No Fee basis. For a free consultation call freephone 0800 884 0275 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers are experts in Asbestos and Industrial Disease claims with offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Merseyside, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield, Derby, and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.


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