Nearly half (47%) of homeowners who do DIY in their properties do not realise that asbestos was used as a building material in homes as recently as the 1990s, according to a British Lung Foundation (BLF) survey out today.
As part of Action Mesothelioma Day 2010, the BLF is urging DIYers to be Asbestos Aware after the survey of 2,000 homeowners revealed that nearly two thirds (65%) are not confident identifying asbestos-containing materials in the home.
Typically asbestos can be found in materials such as floor tiles, toilet cisterns, textured ceiling coatings and linings of boiler cupboards.
Less than a third (29%) of those surveyed said they would check their homes for asbestos-containing materials before they DIYed, while an alarming three quarters (77%) say they have never received any information on how to identify and manage the substance.
Worryingly one in ten (11%) also said if they did come across asbestos in their homes they would try to dispose of it themselves.
Nearly fourteen million homes were built when asbestos materials were being used in construction. This is why the charity is urging DIYers to ensure they know how to identify asbestos-containing materials and do DIY safely. Having this asbestos knowledge could help to prevent them developing mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer between 15 - 50 years later.
Mesothelioma is a cruel disease which kills one person every five hours in the UK . In addition to the survey, the British Lung Foundation has teamed up with DIY expert and TV presenter Craig Phillips, winner of Big Brother 1 to promote the Action Mesothelioma Day campaign.
Craig Phillips, who has worked in the construction industry for 20 years and appeared on over 850 construction and DIY TV programmes in the past decade, knows only too well the effects that asbestos can cause as his uncle has asbestosis - another condition caused by exposure to asbestos.
Craig said: "I am delighted to be helping the British Lung Foundation, the only UK charity working to support everyone affected by lung disease, to promote the annual Action Mesothelioma Day campaign.
"This campaign is particularly close to my heart as my uncle has been affected by asbestos exposure so I know exactly how dangerous asbestos can be. I want to encourage keen DIY-ers to be more vigilant in their homes when making improvements and follow the BLF’s Be Asbestos Aware top tips."
Dame Helena Shovelton, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: "Annually we hold our Action Mesothelioma Day campaign to raise awareness about this very cruel disease that kills one person every five hours in the UK. Yet despite such a devastating illness, the general public knows very little about Mesothelioma, the lung cancer caused by asbestos.
"This year, the British Lung Foundation, the only charity working to support everyone affected by lung disease, is focusing on homeowners that do DIY.
"Our survey has highlighted that nearly half of all homeowners do not know that asbestos was actually used as a building material and could be in their homes today, in light of this there’s definitely more work that needs to be done to ensure people are Asbestos Aware."
Be Asbestos Aware Top Tips:
Asbestos containing materials in good condition are not a health risk and should be left alone
Never sand, drill or saw objects which may contain asbestos such as textured ceiling coatings, fl oor tiles or asbestos cement roofs
Common places where asbestos could be found include fl oor tiles, toilet cisterns, textured ceiling coatings, asbestos cement roofs, soffi t boards and linings of boiler cupboards
Always seek professional advice from your local authority or an accredited asbestos removal company before thinking of removing asbestos materials
Always make sure you have the correct personal protection equipment including:
- Properly fi tted mask to the standards EN149 (type FFP3) or EN1827 (type FMP3)
- Overalls and boot covers – most home improvement stores will stock these
- If you are doing DIY in your own clothes, remove them carefully to avoid excess dust and wash straight away, separately from other clothing, in a washing machine. Make sure you use a mask whilst dealing with them
If you are working with asbestos materials always dampen down the surface to avoid
Don’t smoke, eat or drink in the work area
If you disturb asbestos do not use a domestic vacuum cleaner as dust may pass through the filter hire a special (Class H) industrial vacuum cleaner that complies with British Standards - Look up ‘asbestos safety equipment hire’ on the internet for where to fi nd one
Do not put asbestos waste in the dustbin seek advice from the council about how to safely dispose of it
For more information go to www.lunguk.org or call the British Lung Foundation helpline on 08458 50 50 20.