It is well known that asbestos is an extremely dangerous material, given the fact that it was banned completely from use in the UK in 1999. And while asbestos undoubtedly presents a danger to adults, it is arguably even more hazardous for children, who may not understanding the risks associated with being in the vicinity of airborne asbestos.
When they are at schools children are protected against asbestos exposure by stringent regulations which means that their risk of coming into contact with the substance is minimal. However, when they are at home, the onus is on you to take the necessary steps to keep them safe. Whether you already know that you have asbestos in your home or are concerned that it may be the case, there are steps you can take to make sure your children are as safe as possible.
Understand where you might have asbestos in your home
It is first important to understand exactly where in the house that you might find asbestos, as these can be the places that you child is at risk of asbestos exposure. There is some good news: if your home was built after 1999 then it is extremely unlike that asbestos will be present, however, this does mean that if your home was built before 1999, there is a possibility that asbestos may be contained somewhere.
The most common use for asbestos was as insulation, for example around pipes or in the walls, however asbestos can also be found in floor tiles and ceiling coatings (such as Artex).
If you find material in your home that you believe is asbestos, you may believe that the best course of action is to deal with it immediately to get it away from your children. The worst thing that you can do if you are worried about asbestos in your home is to panic and take rash steps. As we will look at later, carrying out work on asbestos without training can be very hazardous.
If you think you may have asbestos in your home, be calm and take sensible steps. For example if the asbestos is contained in one room, make that room off-limits to your children. This ensures that they will not be exposed while you plan your next steps.
Have an asbestos survey carried out
Any time that you have concerns about asbestos, it is a good idea to have a survey carried out. An asbestos survey is used to establish whether or not asbestos is present in your home and to provide you with details on the physical condition of the asbestos.
In some cases, when the asbestos is in good condition and is unlikely to be disturbed, you may not need to remove or do anything to the asbestos and it is in fact far safer to leave it as it is. In other cases, the survey may recommend asbestos removal. But you should not act without consulting experts first.
Warn children about the dangers of asbestos
It is definitely worth pointing out that the best way to keep your children safe from asbestos is to educate them to the dangers surrounding asbestos. This may be complicated to explain, as asbestos can be found in many different areas of the home and in a variety of different forms, so you can’t necessarily tell children how to avoid asbestos entirely.
However, if you know where asbestos is contained in your home then you can give your children instructions on how to avoid it.
Don’t carry out work on asbestos yourself
Finally, it is worth re-affirming the point that you should never attempt to work on asbestos yourself if you do not have the appropriate training. It some cases individuals believe that removing the asbestos from the property themselves is going to be the safest option, but this is actually very rarely the case.
Asbestos is usually only dangerous when it is damaged and fibres are allowed to get into the atmosphere. Here they can be breathed into the lungs which is where they do damage. If the asbestos is in good condition it will generally not be dangerous, so if you should only ever have it removed by professionals.