The hidden challenge of asbestos in social housing

In November last year NORAC (The National Organisation of Asbestos Consultants), together with ATaC (the Asbestos Testing and Consultancy Association) undertook the first ever review of how asbestos is managed in the UK. Over a six month period their experts examined 128,761 buildings.  They found asbestos in more than 100,000 of them.

It could be in everything everywhere

Jonathan Grant is a NORAC committee member. He says, “It could be in everything, everywhere.”

Asbestos becomes dangerous when it is damaged or deteriorates over time. The tiny microscopic fibres of asbestos come loose and become airborne. This is how most people develop asbestos-related diseases. And 71% of the asbestos items that the inspectors recorded were damaged.

Like a Grenfell Tower fire every five days

Unlike fire risk or mould, the dangers of asbestos are largely hidden. Mr Grant explains, ‘It might be in floor tiles, textured coatings, panels behind flues, in insulating boards… It really is in everything.’

The report stresses that ‘the number of annual asbestos deaths is the equivalent of a Grenfell Tower fire happening every five days.’

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