Building materials containing asbestos were widely used from 1930 to the mid 1980s, but particularly from the 1960s onwards. Houses and flats built or refurbished during this time may contain asbestos.
Asbestos has also been used in some heat-resistant household products such as oven gloves and ironing boards.
The use of asbestos in these products dropped greatly in the 1980s. Since 1993, the use of asbestos in most products has been banned.
Asbestos is no longer used in goods (such as toasters, hair dryers, gas and solid fuel appliances) that conform to a British Standard. In fact, importing into the UK any goods containing asbestos is now banned.
New loft or cavity wall insulation does not contain asbestos, however, if it was fitted pre-early 1980s it may contain asbestos.
Below you will find some of the asbestos-containing products that might be found in a home.
The external structure of your home:
- roofing felt made with bitumen
- corrugated roofing sheets – on sheds and garages
- durasteel panels – steel-framed sheets with an asbestos-containing core
- flat cladding sheets
- flat roof decking tiles – tiles used as a walking surface to spread the load on flat roofs
- profiled metal sheets coated with asbestos fibres in bitumen
- rainwater downpipes and guttering
- roof cladding, slates and tiles
- soil and vent pipes
- undercloak – board supporting roof tiles where they overhang beyond brickwork (usually found on the end of the house)
- wall cladding sheets
- soffit boards – horizontal boards beneath the roof overhang. They bridge the gap between brickwork and fascia board with the guttering attached
- window sills
The internal structure of your home:
- bath panels
- bituminous paper lining
- bituminous acoustic pads fitted beneath stainless steel sinks
- chimney breasts – cement panels used to form mock chimney breasts in timber-framed homes
- cold water tanks – in the loft space
- decorative ceiling tiles
- floor finish – cushion floor sheet vinyl
- floor tiles – rigid vinyl and thermoplastic vinyl
- fire surrounds – heat and fire proof
- flue pipes to heating systems
- insulation of warm air heating and central heating systems
- lagging – to pipes and boilers
- sprayed asbestos coatings – used for the fire protection of steel beams and other central services in system-built flats
- sprayed insulation coatings – rarely used in standard domestic homes, more likely to be found in large blocks of flats or steel-framed buildings
- textured decorative finish – to ceilings and occasionally walls. Artex is a well-known brand
- textured decorative paint
- wall boarding to internal partitions airing cupboard linings, shelving, duct and pipe covers
- catalytic heaters – heaters that produce heat without a visible flame. The flameless type up to 1988 normally contains an asbestos panel
- coals and fake ash – in early ‘coal effect’ gas fires
- coal bunker – lid and slider panel to coal hole
- electric storage heaters – up to 1976, used for the heat
- retention blocks
- filler ropes surrounding oven doors and solid fuel fires
- fire blankets – in kitchens
- portable heaters using liquid petroleum gas