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How To Remove Asbestos The Right Way

Asbestos is one of the most common highly toxic substances you might find in all kinds of buildings. Used extensively from around 1950 until the 1980s, exposure to airborne asbestos fibres can massively increase your risk of developing certain cancers.

Thankfully, there are now a range of safe and effective techniques to remove asbestos, no matter where you find it. If you suspect you have asbestos in a property you’re working on, and want to know how to remove it safely, then you’ve come to the right place.

Test the material

Asbestos doesn’t come in a single form - it’s been integrated into a wide range of building materials, from insulation and floor tiles to paint textures and roofing boards. Some of these materials are a lot easier to remove than others, and it’s important that you know which one you’re dealing with.

It can be tricky, or even impossible, to ascertain which kind of asbestos you’re dealing with just by looking at it. In most cases, it’ll be necessary to take a small sample and send it off to have it tested. Depending on what kind of asbestos you’re dealing with, you’ll likely need to take different precautions to remove it safely.

Check the regulations

Before you start removing the insulation yourself, you’ll also need to check the relevant regulations. Several asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are so dangerous to work with and remove, that under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, you might be legally required to hire a licensed professional.

Even if you’re not dealing with one of the most dangerous materials, it’s still highly advisable to seek assistance from a professional service that’s been trained on how to deal with the stuff.

Even if you only leave a small amount behind, if it gets into the air and then into someone’s lungs, anyone who spends time in the building could end up facing serious health issues further down the line.


Anyone who’s going to be involved in the asbestos removal process will need to be equipped with appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE).

For low-grade, non-licensed asbestos removal work, the asbestos PPE that you’ll need will likely include an FFP3 face mask, nitrile gloves, and a Cat 5 / 6 Type 3 Asbestos Coverall.

When dealing with other, more dangerous kinds of asbestos, removal professionals may need to use a range of other specific PPE to keep themselves safe, depending on which material it is that they’re dealing with.

Controlled wetting techniques

In most cases, asbestos primarily poses a risk when it enters into the air. Not only will this potentially lead to inhalation, but it can also lead to far more extensive contamination of the surrounding area.

A common method that’s used nowadays to limit how much asbestos enters into the air is something called controlled wetting. Using techniques such as spraying the area of concern, moisture can significantly restrict how much asbestos enters the air.

Post-removal cleaning

Once the asbestos has been removed from the property, a thorough clean-up will need to be carried out. Using appropriate techniques based on the material in question, the removal team will need to carry out a thorough decontamination to make sure that the space is safe for occupation.

One common way of doing this is to use wet wiping techniques to remove any larger bits of dust from the ground sheets, and then spray the surface with a glue/water mixture to trap any remaining particles. The dust sheet can then be carefully wrapped up and disposed of.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to use a HEPA vacuum to clear up larger amounts of dust and debris. The spray technique can also then be used to trap any dust and fibres to PPE, which must then be disposed of.

Environmental monitoring

Once the materials have been removed from the property and the thorough cleanup has been finished, it’s important to carry out air monitoring to check that everything is safe for human occupation.

You’ll likely need to hire an asbestos inspector, who will be able to carry out thorough checks and provide you with the necessary documentation to prove that your building is now safe.

Removing asbestos is a tricky process, one that will in most cases require hiring a team of professionals. The implications of getting it wrong are serious - asbestos is highly carcinogenic, and absolutely isn’t something you want to mess around with. Not only could inadequate removal put you at risk, but also any future occupants of the building.