Last updated: 22 March 2024

Next review: 22 March 2025

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring minerals made up of heat resistant fibers. 

Asbestos fibres are strong and resistant to heat and chemicals. This has led to their use in a wide range of building materials and products, often as fireproofing.

Why can asbestos be a problem?

When asbestos materials age or become damaged they can release fibres into the air. These can be breathed deep into the lungs. Once there, they may stay for a long time and cause possible damage. When very high levels of these fibres are inhaled, there is a risk of lung diseases, including cancer.

Where is asbestos found?

Building materials

Asbestos is found in many types of buildings. It was widely used from 1930 to around 1980, particularly from the 1960s onwards.

  • profiled sheets for roofing and wall cladding
  • in flat sheets and partition boards for linings to walls and ceilings
  • in bath panels
  • soffit boards
  • fire surrounds
  • flue pipes
  • cold water tanks
  • roof tiles and slates
  • roofing and cladding for garages
  • sheds
  • guttering
  • drain pipes

Insulating boards

It is unlikely to be found in buildings constructed after 1982. It has been used for fire protection, and heat and sound insulation.

  • ducts
  • infill panels
  • ceiling tiles
  • wall linings
  • partitions.

Other building materials

  • textured plasters
  • vinyl floor tiles
  • roofing felts
  • ropes
  • felts

When carrying out DIY work, avoid sanding or drilling materials, which might contain asbestos.

Certain domestic equipment

Equipment used up to the 1980s may contain asbestos, such as:

  • oven gloves
  • ironing boards
  • seals on cooker doors
  • fire blankets
  • car brake linings and pads.

Asbestos removal services

If you're not sure if a material in your home is asbestos, contact the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA) on 01283 531126. They can provide details of recognised and registered analytical companies who can help. In addition, ARCA has a list of licensed contractors for the safe removal of asbestos.

For the disposal of other hazardous substances, call 020 7332 3433.

Or to find out about other hazardous waste collections such as chemicals, petrol, paint strippers, see our hazardous waste page.

Social housing tenant: home improvements

If you live in social housing and are planning home improvements, like repairs, alterations, decorations, you should contact us first. When you get in touch, we'll check our records to see if there's a risk that you might disturb asbestos. Remember, you need our written permission before doing any alterations or improvements.

How to get permission

Records of previous asbestos removal

If you'd like to see records of previous asbestos removal, please contact us:


Phone 0208 496 4096.