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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Scottish house build halted by asbestos

Work on a low-cost housing scheme in Scotland has been stopped following the identification of on-site asbestos.

The material was found by local authority inspectors during a routine visit to the Thornton, Fife site.

Whilst no asbestos was detected during initial site inspections, 3 sample batches of a white asbestos-based cement has since been identified on the ground surface.


According to Ross Vettriano, an SNP local councillor, an on-site sign has warned of possible risks from asbestos for some years.

"Local residents are aware that asbestos had been removed in the past," Mr Vettriano said. "I assured [them] the council would take every step to determine if the site was free now from asbestos and that is exactly what it has done.

"As the site was not secure, gaps in the perimeter fencing of the site have already been closed."

"May decontaminate" – Council

Mr Vettriano added that another, more comprehensive survey for asbestos will be undertaken. "If necessary the site will be decontaminated."

The local authority is writing to Thornton householders advising them of the discovery. However, the council says it cannot precisely tell when work will restart.

"We are making arrangements to carry out an asbestos survey of the site to determine if there are any other asbestos products on site," Mike McArdle of Fife Council said. "We have written to all nearby residents to keep them up to date and to reassure them they are at no risk from this asbestos.

"At this point, until a full survey has been carried out it is impossible to give an estimate of what will happen on the site and when."

Mesothelioma Fatalities On The Rise

Until its UK ban in 1999, asbestos was widely used in the construction industry as an insulator and fire retardant. Inhalation of its fibres, which can be disturbed during renovations or demolition of older buildings, is believed to be the cause of life-threatening diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the yearly death toll from mesothelioma, a highly aggressive cancer of the lung lining, increased from 243 in 1974 to 2,535 in 2012.

New app – New hope

Looking to arrest the rise of occupational asbestos-related conditions, the HSE has introduced a new downloadable app. Called Beware Asbestos, the free tool is designed to warn workers and householders of the presence of asbestos, advise on remedial measures and provide guidance on whether specific medical treatment is required.

Samantha Peace, an HSE regional director, said asbestos remains present in many old buildings and that the app could be life-saving.

"What we're finding is that tradespeople don't know enough about asbestos – and could be exposing themselves to the dust without even knowing it."

Ms Peace noted that the app can be used while working, allowing individuals to determine if they may be in danger. "[They] can then get straightforward advice to help them do the job safely."


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