Pollution control - asbestos
Responsibility for asbestos matters is shared between:
- Asbestos Identification & Advice - Environmental Health
- Asbestos Removal health & safety - Health & Safety Executive
- Asbestos Disposal - Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
- Asbestos Fly Tipping - Environmental Enforcement Wardens & SEPA
Information on asbestos for businesses is available from the Health & Safety Executive via this link Health & Safety Executive leaflets.
Householders requiring advice on asbestos should refer to the Asbestos in Homes leaflet below.
Environmental Health and Trading Standards
West Lothian Council
Telephone: 01506 282 500
Fax: 01506 282 448
Frequently Asked Questions
Click a question to see the answer.
No. Under no circumstances should you cut, saw or break up what you think may be asbestos sheeting. This can release asbestos fibres which are known to cause long term health problems if inhaled.
If you are unsure if the material contains asbestos, contact Environmental Health. An officer from Environment Health will call and help with identification.
Ideally we would want to know of the exact location of all asbestos material, so please tell us. If necessary, you may need to have it disposed of.
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fibrous mineral. It is fire-resistant, stronger than steel, resilient and insoluble. These properties make it very useful to us, particularly as fire protection and insulation in buildings.
Don't panic. Asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed. If it is safely managed and contained it doesn't present a health hazard. Homeowners should contact a private asbestos contractor who will sample and analyse the material for the presence of asbestos. After analysis they should provide advice on the best course of action. Council tenants should contact your nearest housing office or your housing officer.
Asbestos is not dangerous unless fibres are released into the air. Thus any asbestos present in buildings will pose no harm if it is in good condition, and can be left in place if it is unlikely to be disturbed. Any activity that causes fibres to be released will cause problems, for example cutting, using machinery, removal of asbestos, drilling or sawing, repair or replacement of ceiling tiles or unintentional damage.
Environmental Health will communicate with the Health & Safety Executive and SEPA, if appropriate, regarding relevant health & safety disposal issues.
Asbestos fibres are very narrow and are therefore easily breathed in. They do not dissolve and will remain in the lung for a very long time, perhaps indefinitely. They become easily lodged in the lungs, and our immune systems are unable to break them down. Inhaling asbestos fibres can lead to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Asbestos was used extensively as a building material in Great Britain from 1950 to the mid 1980s, and continued to be used until 1999. Although some asbestos has been removed, it is likely that many thousands of tonnes are still present within buildings. It is estimated that over half a million non-domestic premises currently have some form of asbestos in them.