Asbestos

Asbestos is a natural mineral made up of many small fibres. There are three main types:

  • Blue asbestos - crocidolite
  • Brown asbestos - amosite
  • White asbestos - chrysotile

What are the risks?

Asbestos can be harmful if dust containing the fibre is inhaled.

The risk from asbestos where the fibres are still intact (such as in asbestos cement) is significantly reduced. However, always treat all asbestos products with caution as potential sources of fibrous dust, and handle them carefully. 

Where is it found?

Asbestos has been used about the home in building materials and consumer goods, particularly to resist heat and to give fire protection.

Common uses in the past are as:

  • Insulation lagging in buildings and factories, on pipework and for boilers and ducts
  • Asbestos insulating board, such as Asbestolux and Marinite, which were used as wall partitions, fire doors, ceiling tiles, etc
  • Asbestos cement products such as sheeting on walls and roofs, tiles, cold water tanks, gutters, pipe and in decorative plaster finishes
  • A spray coating on steel work, concrete walls and ceilings, for fire protection and insulation

Asbestos material can be inadvertently disturbed during maintenance, repair or refurbishment work on building. Drilling, cutting or other disturbance of existing asbestos materials can release asbestos fibres into the air. Asbestos products should always be handled carefully.

What to do

If you think you have come across asbestos in your home or office and you're unsure about whether the material contains asbestos, don't take any chances. Seek expert advice from asbestos monitoring/surveying companies, which are listed in the Classified Telephone Directory.

A specialist contractor should be engaged to carry out work on asbestos products or to demolish asbestos products, particularly those that are worn or damaged.

In the case of asbestos products where the fibres are tightly bound (for example, in asbestos cement roofs), and the material is in good condition, specialist asbestos removal contractors may not always be necessary. 

Always take precautions, and contact the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for advice:

Health and Safety Authority,
The Metropolitan Building,
James Joyce Street,
Dublin 1.
Tel. (01) 6147020 or 1890289389
Fax. (01) 6147020.

Queries concerning working with asbestos should be directed to
Occupational Hygiene Unit,
HSA, Dublin 1.
Tel: (01) 614 7000.

Disposing of asbestos waste

Asbestos waste is hazardous and must be disposed of properly. Before any demolition work, identify which waste facility is licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for disposal of asbestos waste.

Hazardous waste transfer stations can accept asbestos waste and then arrange to have it disposed of at an appropriate facility here or abroad.

Licensed facilities

The following waste facilities are licensed by the EPA to accept asbestos waste:

  • Veolia Environmental Services Technical Solutions Limited, Corrin, Fermoy, Co. Cork.  Waste Licence Register Number: W0050-2, Tel: (025) 42944.
  • Rilta Environmental Limited, Block 402, Grant's Drive, Greenogue Business Park, Rathcoole, Co. Dublin.  Waste Licence Register Number: W0192-03, Tel: (01) 401 8000.

Once the asbestos is removed safely, it should be wrapped in heavy gauge polythene bags, and labelled asbestos.

There must be strict adherence to any instructions given by a local authority or waste collection permit holder regarding the packaging of the waste for removal.

Asbestos waste must only be surrendered to local authority waste collectors or to an authorised waste collection permit holder.

Operators of facilities that are authorised to accept waste asbestos should contact the Agency to have their details added to this list or to correct any out of date information on operations.

For information on waste collection permit holders authorised to collect asbestos waste, please contact the National Waste Collection Permit Office at Offaly Co. Co. or search for permit holders on their website www.nwcpo.ie.

Learn more

Read the Health and Safety Authority's notes on asbestos

Read the EPA's Technical Guidance note on Landfilling of Asbestos