Buried asbestos.

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wilderliddle
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Buried asbestos.

Post by wilderliddle » Sat Jun 30, 2018 7:36 pm

Hi, I am working in the garden of a house being constructed, I am levelling the garden, and upon digging down into the soil, we discovered some small pieces of white asbestos, in the form of cement roofing. Now I didnt touch the asbestos directly, I waited for the on site manager to examine it. He said its nothing to worry about and just bags any pieces I find. So with parts of asbestos roofing being found in the soil, I was wondering if it is safe that i am digging in this soil all day. No asbestos visible, but I am worried that the soil is now full of fibres.

I get extremely paranoid and want to know the level of risk to this exposure I am having, and weather the site manager is being unsafe or naive.

Thanks anyway.
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Re: Buried asbestos.

Post by Job and Knock » Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:14 am

:welcomeuhm:

Basically (by Law) the site should have an asbestos register and your site manager should not only have a copy of this, but it should have been made available (or at least offered) as part of your site induction (it comes under the RAMS - risk assessment and method statement).

It sounds as though the asbestos you have uncovered is chrysotile-containing corrugated cement asbestos. Chrysotile (white asbestos) is the least harmful form of asbestos and may be removed without a licence if treated and handled correctly (see below).

If the amounts are very small then the simplest way to handle it is to damp it down with water and bag it up. It should be double-bagged and the bags should be marked with the words "asbestos" or "asbestos waste" and must under no circumstances be disposed of in the general waste skips for the site (BTW this is the Law - the ones I've used in the past are additionally coloured bright red). Providing it is damped down with water before handling then fibres should not become airborne. Should you start to encounter more than the occasional piece (possibly odd bits left over from an earlier demolition) then your site management must be informed as they will need to segregate the area and take further steps to to control the risk

I don't want to second guess your management, and without actually being there and being unable to make a first hand assessment that is how, in similar circumstances, I might approach this myself. I sometimes work as a (qualified) site foreman and possess the current, relevant UK ATA asbestos awareness qualification, but I am no expert on asbestos.

If you want to read-up some more on the subject then I'd suggest looking at the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) web site for their Health & Safety Guidance Sheet J (downloadable PDF) which contains a lot of information about handling asbestos-containing roofing materials safely (this link has also been included for the benefit of anyone who needs to dismantle a cement asbestos garage, etc). In your case the amounts you are referring to are so low that it sounds as though only low level precautions (i.e. damping down and double bagging) need to be taken
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Re: Buried asbestos.

Post by toolbox » Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:11 am

Depends on your working situation (self employed or working for a mean boss) if there is a lot I would walk off site, just a few bits in wet ground it should not be a problem, if they are caked in soil and no fresh breaks.
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Re: Buried asbestos.

Post by wilderliddle » Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:21 am

Hi, thanks for the replies. So my boss does double bag them, but he doesn't damp the area. My worry comes from me working in this soil where we found these few tiny pieces as fibres may be loose in the soil? How dangerous would a week or so exposure like this be? Should I be really worried?
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Re: Buried asbestos.

Post by dewaltdisney » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:14 pm

It is natural to worry, but for your own minds rest why not get a mask see https://www.respiratorshop.co.uk/asbest ... ridge.html. I would think that the asbestos fibres are quite heavy from being in the ground and less likely to get airborne. Or Toolstation has these https://www.toolstation.com/shop/p42614

DWD
Last edited by dewaltdisney on Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buried asbestos.

Post by toolbox » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:16 pm

dewaltdisney wrote:It is natural to worry, but for your own minds rest why not get a mask see https://www.respiratorshop.co.uk/asbest ... ridge.html. I would think that the asbestos fibres are quite heavy from being in the ground and less likely to get airborne.

DWD
:thumbright:
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Re: Buried asbestos.

Post by wilderliddle » Sun Jul 01, 2018 3:38 pm

Ok thanks for the info. So you don't think I am at great risk of developing one of the asbestos related diseases in the future? What generally are the chances from a few weeks second hand exposure like this?
Sorry about the paranoia, thanks again though.
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Re: Buried asbestos.

Post by dewaltdisney » Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:46 pm

There are plenty of ways you can go, you are more at risk from diesel particulates in the air when you walk down the street I reckon. I used to know a pipe lagger who worked the power stations installing with the real dodgy asbestos lagging. He never got lung disease but developed dementia which he died from in the end. He was 78 I think. So when your number is up it is up. Just take reasonable care and do not worry.

DWD
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Re: Buried asbestos.

Post by Job and Knock » Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:59 pm

wilderliddle wrote:So you don't think I am at great risk of developing one of the asbestos related diseases in the future? What generally are the chances from a few weeks second hand exposure like this?
Asbestos-related illnesses are a long term thing. Length of exposure doesn't really determine much but with such small quantities you've probably got little to worry about. the main thing is to constantly damp down whenever you see the stuff. Like many a joiner of my generation I have installed Asbestolux insulation boards which we sawed to size by hand and where masks were unknown. and frankly I'm with DWD - if my number is up then it's up. Throughout your life you will be exposed to asbestos from time to time - from naturally occurring mineral asbestos found in some rock outcrops to what you'll encounter in buildings (or when digging outside them) - so the risk is always there. Just don't let it make you paranoid, and if you are really concerned, then why not read up on the subject (starting with the HSE web site) or even do the UK ATA qualification. At least then you'll be able to make an informed decision on the topic
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