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Asbestos

This page explains the legislation around disposing of this hazardous substance.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used in a range of building materials to make them more rigid and fire resistant. It has also been used in household products such as ironing boards and oven gloves.

Asbestos was used extensively as a building material in Great Britain from the 1950s through to the mid 1980s.

Some of areas in your home where you may find asbestos include:

  • eaves gutters and rainwater fall pipes
  • fire blankets
  • garage and shed roofs
  • linings for walls, ceilings and doors
  • insulation panels in some storage heaters
  • bath panels
  • central heating flues
  • loose asbestos packing between floors and in partition walls
  • floor tiles.

Most people are exposed to low amounts of asbestos present in the atmosphere with no ill effects. Asbestos fibres and dust are potentially very dangerous if inhaled in higher concentrations over a period of time, when they can cause serious lung diseases including cancer. The symptoms of these diseases often do not appear for between 20 -30 years after exposure to asbestos.

Control of Asbestos Regulations

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 (external link) came into force on 13 November 2006 (Asbestos Regulations - SI 2006/2739).

These Regulations bring together three sets of Regulations covering the prohibition of asbestos, the control of asbestos at work and asbestos licensing.

The Regulations ban importation, supply and use of all forms of asbestos. They continue the ban introduced for blue and brown asbestos in 1985 and for white asbestos in 1999. They also continue to ban the second-hand use of asbestos products. The ban applies to new use of asbestos. If existing asbestos containing materials are in good condition, they may be left in place; their condition monitored and managed to ensure they are not disturbed.

Asbestos waste also includes:

  • contaminated building materials
  • tools that cannot be decontaminated
  • personal protective equipment
  • damp rags used for cleaning.

If in doubt, always treat waste as ‘hazardous’ or ‘special’.

England and Wales

Asbestos waste is considered ‘hazardous waste’ when it contains more than 0.1% asbestos.

The Hazardous Waste Regulations apply when dealing with Asbestos waste.

You need to complete a Waste Consignment for asbestos waste.

England, Scotland and Wales

In England, Wales and Scotland, all asbestos waste is subject to Schedule 2 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. Most waste is subject to the Carriage of Dangerous Goods (etc) Regulations 2004 (CDG).

Firmly-bound asbestos, asbestos cement and articles with asbestos reinforcement, does not release hazardous or breathable fibres easily. So the CDG regulations do not apply.

The Carriage of Dangerous Goods (etc) Regulations 2004 (CDG) applies for all other asbestos waste.

Contacts

For advice on the safe disposal of asbestos contact the Natural Resources Wales (NRW) General Enquiries Helpline on 0300 065 3000.

If you have any comments on this web page or any queries on Asbestos in Wales, please e-mail us at: Waste@wales.gsi.gov.uk.