RICS Draft Guidance Note: Asbestos - legal requirements and best practice for property professionals and clients (4th edition)

RICS Asbestos 4th edition consultation draft

2 Asbestos

2.1 What is asbestos?

In the UK, all types of asbestos are regulated and their use is prohibited.

Three main types of asbestos fibre were commonly used:

  • crocidolite (blue asbestos)
  • amosite (brown asbestos) and
  • chrysotile (white asbestos).

There are also three rarer types - tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite - which were not often mined commercially.

Asbestos fibre was added to building materials, as well as other mechanical and electrical products, because of the properties of the fibres:

  • thermal resistance
  • high tensile strength
  • weather resistance
  • sound insulation and
  • chemical resistance.

Products and materials containing asbestos were in use throughout the 20th century, with the peak period of production during the 1960s and 1970s. Its use was finally prohibited in the UK (with some very limited exceptions) in 1999.

It has been estimated that there are over 3,500 different products that contain asbestos. The most common are building and industrial materials such as bitumen-, plastic- and resin-based products, thermal insulation (pipe and boiler lagging), boards, panels, textiles and other composite materials. See appendix A for more information on common ACMs.