The Banning of Asbestos
The first asbestos prohibition laws were bought into the UK 1985, banning the use of blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos. But, surprisingly, asbestos wasn’t actually fully banned in the UK until 1999, when white chrysotile was banned.
Before the banning, asbestos was used extensively in housing and it is estimated that as many as 50% of homes built pre-1999 may still contain asbestos to this day. Asbestos floor and ceiling tiles were popular building materials in the 50s, 60s and 70s, so it is very likely that older properties that have not been renovated, will still contain these materials.
New asbestos rules
As well as asbestos being fully banned in 1999, there were also a number of further laws that were introduced, to try and regulate the safety of workers who might be exposed to asbestos.
One such protection scheme is the 2002 Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations. These regulations mean that anyone working with asbestos insulation products (for example, asbestos removers) must have an asbestos license in order to safely carry out the work. These work regulations also set maximum exposure limits and they also stipulate that all asbestos must be identified and managed properly.
In 2006, further asbestos regulations were introduced which replaced the 2002 regulations. These bought together all existing pieces of legislation, combining them into one single law which prohibited the use, supply and importation of asbestos.
This updated law was to prevent both the import of and new uses of any asbestos-containing materials. This covered things such as the spraying of asbestos materials as a surface coating, using insulating or soundproofing materials made from asbestos or the use of asbestos cement, boards, panels or tile.
In 2012 the updated Control of Asbestos Regulations was introduced, which further superseded previous regulations updating them to be in line with the EU regulations. Although, in truth, the changes made in the 2012 update are fairly limited.
How to protect yourself