Asbestos risk: Moving from awareness to action

It’s a stark fact that asbestos-related diseases are estimated to cause around 5,000 deaths every year in Great Britain. In light of this shocking figure, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) deserves credit for highlighting the very real dangers of this now-banned substance through the launch of its new Asbestos & You campaign.

The initiative is explicitly targeted at younger workers in trades such as plastering and joinery who started out in their careers after asbestos was banned in 1999. According to the HSE, this is a group that “need to take the risk of asbestos much more seriously” as they might mistakenly think it’s only relevant to older workers who were in employment prior to the ban.

The truth, of course, is that asbestos is still present in millions of buildings constructed pre-2000 and tradespeople of all ages could be exposed to asbestos fibres as part of their everyday work. Raising awareness of this danger is a critical first step in helping protect workers, but in doing so, the HSE campaign also raises important questions. For example, is awareness of the problem matched by awareness of the available solutions? When there’s suspicion of asbestos, is it clear what people should do or where they can go for help?

At Envirochem, our wealth of analytical expertise helps clients manage a range of environmental risks from a variety of sources, including asbestos. Here we look at the best-practice approaches to managing this highly carcinogenic substance.

Be prepared

Under regulation 4 of The Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012, every non-domestic building should be surveyed as part of a duty to “take reasonable steps” to ascertain whether asbestos-containing materials (ACM) are present in the premises, where they are located and what condition they are in. This information is contained within an asbestos register that should be available to any contractors to inform them about any asbestos present. In cases where a building is being refurbished or the work involves demolition, a Major refurbishment/demolition asbestos survey is required to locate and identify all asbestos materials so they can be safely removed. Before starting any work, request a copy of the asbestos register from the asbestos survey or get confirmation that the asbestos has been appropriately removed so you’re aware of what you are dealing with.

If in doubt, stop

If you do come across what you think might be asbestos, cease work immediately. Even if you are under time pressure, don’t be tempted to assess the risk yourself, work around the situation or, worse, carry on regardless. It’s essential that appropriate personnel with management responsibility are informed of the potential danger and then tests are conducted to confirm the properties of the material in question.

Seek out expert help

If you are unsure about what to do, seek out expert advice. You might be tempted to start this journey with a Google search, in which case, make sure the information you are accessing is from a verified, trustworthy source. Better still, speak to someone with knowledge and experience of managing asbestos risks. Independent consultancies will be able to respond to any queries and guide you through next steps in terms of sampling, surveys and testing. All analytical testing should be carried out to the internationally recognized standard ISO/IEC 17025 by companies accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

Take appropriate action

Where asbestos is present, the level of risk involved will determine whether it should be dealt with by a licensed or non-licensed contractor. In either case, the work should be carried out under highly controlled conditions to a plan of work by trained individuals and with relevant insurance in place. Again, expert consultancies can provide valuable support on the nature of the work required and how it should be carried out. At Envirochem, we are always on hand to offer professional advice and guidance where these questions arise.

For anyone in the trades – young or old – the above steps provide some practical, essential guidance on what to do when faced with the possible threat of asbestos, a substance that might now be banned but certainly has yet to be consigned to history. Indeed, Mesothelioma UK’s ‘Don’t let the dust settle’ campaign reminds us that a possible 6 million tonnes of asbestos could still be present in 1.5 million buildings across the UK.

Looking to the future, it’s not only important that such campaigns maintain awareness levels among those potentially exposed, but that individuals also know they can access a network of asbestos experts to mitigate their personal risk. Perhaps less a case of Asbestos & You and more a case of Us vs Asbestos.

If you would like any more information about the risks from asbestos or the UKAS-accredited sampling, surveys and testing services available from Envirochem, get in touch with our team today by email ( or by calling 01329 287 777. If you would prefer us to get in touch with you, please fill out the form below;

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Our Asbestos Services!

Here at Envirochem we can help with all your asbestos needs and questions, from surveys, asbestos fibre ID to air testing we have it all covered.

Asbestos Fibre Identification Service

Material analysis will identify:

+The presence of asbestos

+ The asbestos product type

We can offer you:

+ Sample collection service

+UKAS accredited analysis

+ Water absorption testing

+ Fibre identification certificate with every sample analysed

+ Consultancy catered to your individual needs

Asbestos awareness courses

+ British Occupational Hygiene Society training to include:

P401, P402, P403, P404, and P405 for working with asbestos

Asbestos Surveying

Management surveys –

This type of survey is non-intrusive which details the location, type and condition of asbestos containing materials found.

Major Refurbishment & Demolition surveys –

Required when premises are being renovated or demolished, identifying asbestos containing materials present before beginning of structural work.

Re-inspection surveys –

The condition of asbestos containing materials in non-domestic properties should be re-inspected every 12 months.

Analytical Testing

Background air monitoring –

Carried out prior to any asbestos works to ascertain ambient air quality.

Reassurance air monitoring –

Carried out during and following asbestos removal to ensure control limits have not been exceeded and the area is safe for occupation.

Personal & Leak air monitoring –

To establish exposure levels when working with asbestos and ensure the contamination is contained to the working area.

4 Stage Clearance –

Used to independently verify that licensed asbestos works have been completed correctly and reoccupation is safe.

Watching Briefs & Verification Reporting –

Analyst can aid in overseeing asbestos activities taking place on site, to ensure that the site is cleared in a methodical way.

For more information or advice please call on 01329 287 777 or fill out the form below;

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Envirochem now offers a Fit2Fit accredited face fit testing service!

An inadequate fit will significantly reduce the protection provided by the RPE and may lead to serious immediate and long-term health problems.

Quantitative face fit testing can be carried out both at our head office in Fareham or on site.

Qualitative face fit testing can also be undertaken if required.

Types of tight fitting masks that can be tested:
• Half Face Ori-Nasal Respirators
• Full Face Respirators
• P3 Disposable Half Masks

If there are any other types of masks you would like tested and you are unsure
please don’t hesitate to ask.

Notes for candidates:
• All operatives must be clean shaven
• All operatives must refrain from eating or drinking for 1 hour before their test
• All operatives must refrain from smoking for an hour before their test
• Testing should be carried out every 1-2 years
• Re-tests should be undertaken if operatives face shape changes (i.e due to major
dental work/weight loss etc.)

Face fit testing procedure (according to HSE INDG479):
• Operatives will don their mask
• Operatives will then be required to undergo various exercises
• There are 7 exercises taking 80 seconds each.
• Operatives need to pass each exercise consecutively to gain a pass

Please call 01329 287 777 or complete the form below if you would like further information or a free quotation:

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Here at Envirochem, we offer UKAS accredited quantification of asbestos in soil. 

Analysis will identify:

  • The presence of asbestos
  • The asbestos product type
  • The percentage of asbestos present within the sample
  • Documented values to enable the client to interpret the results to their specific requirements

Analysis will enable the end user to:

  •  Assist with the determination of the Waste Acceptance Criteria
  •  Identify potential for asbestos exposure adjacent to contaminated land
  •  Identify the total percentage of asbestos present in the sample

We have a dedication team of analysts, fast turnarounds and over 30 years experience.

To find out more or contact us, call on 01329 287 777 or fill out the form below:

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Do you need asbestos surveying or testing?

Before carrying out works such as demolition, refurbishment or maintenance where it is foreseeable that your work will disturb the structure of the building, make sure you have the right planning, managing and monitoring in place before commencing.

The HSE do not hesitate in taking action when their required standards are not met. Such is the case in their most recent conviction:

Envirochem can help with all your asbestos needs from surveying, sampling, air monitoring and more, find out more or get in contact with us:

We Are Hiring !!

Envirochem is a long established, UKAS accredited, independent organisation offering analytical and consultancy services covering most environmental issues.

Due to continued expansion an opportunity has arisen to employ Trainee Asbestos Analysts based at our main office in Fareham and our sub office in Bristol. The successful applicant(s) will be required to start as soon as possible.

If you would like to join our team please follow the link see all the details on indeed:

Vinyl floor tiles

Vinyl floor tiles are a type of flooring that in more modern times are not used as frequently and are usually hidden underneath carpets that have been laid over them.

These tiles can often contain asbestos and if you are in any doubt whether yours are asbestos containing or not and certainly before you rip them up you should get them tested for asbestos and any bitumen or adhesive used to adhere them as well.

It can also be the case that the tiles are not asbestos containing, but the adhesive used to adhere them to the floor is and should also be tested before pulling up the tiles or scraping the adhesive off.

Here at Envirochem, we can attend your property or site and take samples of tiles and other materials you are concerned with and test them at our own in-house UKAS accredited laboratory.

We even sell self-sampling kits to enable you to safely take samples of materials yourself and return them for us for testing.

For more information and to contact us please call on 01329 287 777 or fill out the form below:

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Our Newest Bulk Analyst.

Meet Maria, our newest Bulk Analyst joining our Asbestos Laboratory. Maria has passed her P401 exam and is quickly gaining experience and furthering her knowledge. Maria was trained in-house by our experience staff as we offer approved British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) courses for a range of asbestos related courses including P401.

Here at Envirochem, we are a UKAS accredited Laboratory and have over 25 years of experience in the asbestos sector.

From sample analysis, air monitoring, surveys and more.

Envirochem offers a competitive Asbestos Fibre Identification service, in accordance with our UKAS Accreditation and HSG 248, returning results by email within 24 hours in most cases.

In the United Kingdom, the three most common forms of asbestos are chrysotile (white), amosite (brown) and crocidolite (blue). They are found in common building materials such as insulation board panels, spray coating, bonded cements, gaskets, insulation, textured coatings, and vinyl flooring.

We undertake Management and Major Refurbishment/Demolition Asbestos Surveys in accordance with our UKAS accreditation based upon HSE Guidance Note Asbestos: The survey guide (HSG 264). We also undertake Re-inspection Surveys of buildings which have previously undergone Management Asbestos Surveys.

Our team offer the full range of asbestos air monitoring services geared specifically to meet the requirements of your project, in accordance with HSG 248. Our growing fleet of asbestos analysts are provided with fully equipped mobile laboratories allowing for on-site analysis of air samples and instant certification upon completion of analytical monitoring.

Additionally, we are UKAS Accredited for the Quantification of Asbestos in Soil.

For further information on all our services, please contact us for our fast and efficient service, call us on 01329 287 777 or fill out the form below:

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High Level and Confined Spaces

Here at Envirochem we undertake Management and Major Refurbishment/Demolition Asbestos Surveys in accordance with our UKAS accreditation based upon HSE Guidance Note Asbestos: The survey guide (HSG 264). We also undertake Re-inspection Surveys of buildings which have previously undergone Management Asbestos Surveys.

If that includes high level access or a confined space that’s no problem, we have a range of tools and equipment that our expertly trained staff can use to access nearly any space.

Asbestos Surveys are quoted on an individual basis. For a free quotation please contact us with as much detail as possible about the scope of your project including the size, age, usage, location and any other relevant information about the property.

For more information on our services and how we can tailor them to any requirement call us today or fill out the form below.

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Analysis for the Built Environment

What is analysis in the Built Environment:

We offer a variety of analyses for the Built Environment where sensitivity is required in understanding the composition and nature of various substances.

For example, lead, arsenic and other metals in paint, anthrax or gypsum in plaster, mould and more.

Why test:

Many substances in the built environment can cause serious harm if they are disturbed and you are exposed to them. For example:

Lead in paint if breathed in or ingested can lead to changes in your blood and have effects on your nervous system and kidneys.

Anthrax is a potentially fatal infection caused by Bacillus anthracis that is transmitted from animals to humans. In the built environment one of the main sources of anthrax risk is horsehair plaster, typically found in older buildings, and usually pre-dates the 1950’s.

Paint and wallpaper containing arsenic that becomes damp, can be metabolised to a volatile form of arsenic called arsene. This arsene can then be inhaled by the occupants of the building. Even if concentrations are low, prolonged exposure can lead to arsenic bio-accumulating in the body and subsequent sickness. 

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and other similar gases in insulating foams are ozone layer depleting substances, which is one of the driving causes of climate change. Many of these substances are banned or are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol because of how damaging they are to the ozone layer.

Who should test:

Depending on what you are testing for, below is a few examples of who might require testing:

  • Demolition workers
  • Building contractors
  • Anyone carrying out refurbishment works
  • Individuals doing DIY
  • Anyone concerned about mould growth
  • Insulators or Insulation removers

What we can offer:

Envirochem can offer a range of testing including:

  • UKAS accredited Lead and Chromium in paint testing
  • Arsenic in paint and wallpaper testing
  • Anthrax or gypsum in plaster
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in foam and polystyrene
  • Mould analysis
  • Tests for over 30 metals in paint

We can also attend site and sample for you or alternatively we offer self-sampling kits for you to sample yourself to send to us for analysis.

For more information call us on 01329 287 777 or fill out the form below:

Contact Envirochem now