What is Asbestos?

What is Asbestos ? – Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which is fire-resistant; chemical resistant and has a high tensile strength, making it a once widely-used component in construction materials. It was first used in building and construction in the UK in the late 1800’s. Extensive usage occurred within the construction of buildings, between the late 1940’s until the mid 1970’s. However, some products were still being installed prior to a total UK wide ban, as late as 1999.

It is estimated that over 5 million tonnes of asbestos was imported into the UK and installed within as many as 1.5 million commercial buildings alone. There are a number of different types, but the most frequently occurring are: Crocidolite (blue); Amosite (brown); Chrysotile (white). Although the properties of these asbestos materials differ, all have been found to cause a number of fatal lung diseases when their fibres are released into the atmosphere and inhaled. Asbestos-related diseases (including: mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer) currently kill approximately 3000 people each year in the UK. This figure is expected to rise to 10,000 within the next decade.

About Asbestos

The Duty to Manage (Regulation 4, CAR 2012) asbestos in properties, means it is now a legal requirement that asbestos is identified and managed in commercial properties and the maintained / communal parts of residential properties (Blocks of flats etc).

N.B Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 is a ‘Duty to Manage’, not a ‘Duty to Survey’; it may not be necessary to undertake an asbestos survey in order to formulate an asbestos management plan. ENV Surveys Ltd can advise you of your options. Just because asbestos is present within a building does not mean it has to be removed. Asbestos materials in good condition, can often be safely managed without the need for costly removal or remediation.


Crocidolite (blue); Amosite (brown); and Chrysotile (white) asbestos cannot usually be identified by their colour alone. There are 1,000’s of products containing asbestos used throughout the industrial and domestic sectors (See our Asbestos Material & Uses Gallery), including:

Thermal Insulationpipes; boilers, Lagging etc

Sprayed Coating – ceilings; structural building components

Insulating Board – wall panels; doors; fire-breaks; ceiling tiles, etc

Cloth, Ropes and Yarnsfire blankets; gaskets; lagging; clothing, Fire-stopping etc

Paper/Millboard – roofing felt; damp-proof courses; flooring; lagging, filters etc

Cementprofiled sheets; roofing sheets and tiles; decorative panels; soffits; partitioning; rain-water goods; tanks and cisterns, etc

Bitumen Products – roofing felts; damp-proof courses; gutter linings, etc

Textured Coatings – walls; ceilings, etc

Positive identification may only be possible through sampling and analysis in a UKAS accredited laboratory.

UKAS Accreditation

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is recognised by the UK Government as the sole UK national accreditation body responsible for assessing and accrediting the competence of organisations in the fields of inspection, calibration, testing and the certification of systems, products and personnel. E N V is a UKAS accredited inspection body No. 353, accredited to BS EN ISO/IEC 17020 as a Type C Inspection Body, to undertake Management and Refurbishment & Demolition surveys. To view our accreditation schedule click here

ENV Surveys Ltd. is also accredited to ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 to undertake the analysis of asbestos in bulk materials. (Bulk Analysis / Asbestos Testing) To view our accreditation schedule click here