Frequently asked questions (FAQS): Asbestos

The University closed University Hall after a single internal wall panel was found to be damaged and suspected to contain asbestos.

This damage was reported to us on 4 November, and we immediately closed the hall and carried out testing on the panel as part of an initial investigation. Results received on 6 November confirmed it was asbestos.

Test results suggest that any exposure to asbestos fibres is likely to have been low and therefore unlikely to lead to harm to users of the hall.

Further monitoring and a clean-up operation using specialist contractors was carried out and the hall reopened as normal in January 2019.

The issue was reported to the Health and Safety Executive.

Frequently asked questions

Asbestos is a term for a group of minerals made of microscopic fibres. Before its dangers were known, asbestos was often used in buildings for insulation, flooring and roofing and sprayed on ceilings and walls.

It’s only when these materials are damaged or disturbed that tiny asbestos fibres can be released into the air and breathed into your lungs. Find out more about what asbestos is here.

When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. They can cause serious diseases if inhaled over a long period of time during work or living in such an environment polluted with asbestos dusts.

However, many cases of inadvertent, short-term exposure to asbestos will most likely have led to minimal exposure to fibres, with little likelihood of any long-term ill health effects.

Read more on the health risks of asbestos exposure on the NHS web pages.

(Health and Safety Executive http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/index.htm)

Many cases of inadvertent, short-term exposure to asbestos will most likely have led to minimal exposure to fibres, with little likelihood of any long-term ill health effects.

If you are concerned you are advised to consult your GP and ask for a note to be made in your personal record about possible exposure, including date(s), duration, type of asbestos and likely exposure levels (if known).

If you are concerned about possible symptoms, you are advised to consult your GP and ask for a note to be made in your personal record about possible exposure, including date(s), duration, type of asbestos and likely exposure levels (if known).

HSE does not advocate routine X-rays for people who have had an inadvertent exposure to asbestos. Asbestos-related damage to the lungs takes years to develop and becomes visible on chest X-rays. X-ray examinations cannot indicate whether or not asbestos fibres have been inhaled.

Although the type of asbestos involved and the duration of exposure may be known, there may be little reliable information about the level of exposure. These are all important factors in determining the level of risk - the more fibres that are released by an asbestos-containing material, and the longer the work activity lasts, the greater the cumulative exposure to asbestos fibres and, therefore, an increased risk of ill health effects.

(Health and Safety Executive http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/index.htm

Friday 19 October – Monday 4 November 2018.

The Panel was located near to the northwest fire escape, above the speaker. The main fragments of the panel fell into the void between the inner and outer brick skin on the building.

Undisturbed, the presence of asbestos is not a hazard to the campus community. Asbestos is only removed when necessary, during building works or through routine building maintenance projects.

The building is now open as of January 2019.

The work initially focused on removing the damaged panel and cleaning up the hall so that it can be used again. Undisturbed, the presence of asbestos is not a hazard to the campus community. However, as the hall was closed we took the opportunity to remove all of the asbestos in the hall.

Yes – it is only University Hall that is affected.

There is still asbestos present on campus and it may be found in the buildings you occupy, however if asbestos is intact and in good condition it does not pose a health concern. The University maintains an (electronic) asbestos register which is being uploaded with the latest 2018 Asbestos Management surveys, to ensure that the University remains compliant and to support any intrusive works on campus.

Refrain from damaging floors, walls, ceilings and piping systems that could possibly contain asbestos.

Do not rip items off walls or ceilings. Contact Estates and Facilities if you see any damage to a wall. Make a request online or call 01483 689230.

Timetabling will be in touch with those effected by the closure of University Hall.

It can be difficult to identify asbestos, as it is often mixed with other materials. The HSE asbestos image gallery shows a number of common materials that contain asbestos. However, we have trained staff available, so please contact Estates and Facilities if you see any damage to a wall. Make a request online or call 01483 689230.

The asbestos is only affecting a very small area of the hall, but regardless of the scale of such an issue, the health and safety executive requires a two-week period of isolation before any clean up takes place. As the hall is usually in constant demand, the University took the opportunity to remove all of the asbestos in the hall.

For further information and advice, please visit the Student Services Centre, located opposite the Phillip Marchant building, or call them on 08082810260.