A lot of people might answer the question ‘when was asbestos banned in the UK?’ with the answer ‘1985’.

And they’d be almost right – but not completely, as the UK’s history with cautioning against the use of asbestos dates back to 1931.

Asbestos regulations, 1930s-1970’s

Due to a rising number of health-related cases being linked to asbestos exposure, the UK government launched The Asbestos Industry Regulations in 1931. This was to ensure employees who work directly with asbestos had access to safe workspaces, including protective equipment.

This was superseded by The Asbestos Regulations in 1969. This came after a series of damming reports, linking asbestos to a multitude of serious health conditions including cancers, lung diseases and even deaths. The Asbestos Regulations furthered the levels of protection an employee exposed to asbestos was entitled to including adequate ventilation, safe handling procedures and further protective equipment.

Voluntary banning of asbestos

The first ‘ban’ on asbestos was seen in the UK in the 1970s. The asbestos industries offered a voluntary ban on the import of blue asbestos. As good as this seemed from the outside, this did very little to minimise the risks of asbestos. This is because, at the time, blue asbestos equated to just 3% of all asbestos imports.

Following this in 1980, the government issued a second voluntary ban on brown asbestos (roughly 3% of imports).

Which types of asbestos were banned in 1985?

Not long after the two voluntary bans, in 1985, the government placed an official ban on the use of amphibole fibres, which includes the more popular brown and blue asbestos (along with actinolite, tremolite and anthophyllite). White asbestos, however, was still allowed and made up 95% of all asbestos being used.

The final ban on asbestos in 1999

In 1999, the import, supply and use of asbestos in the UK were finally banned. All asbestos types were banned.

Ultimately, the rising cases of asbestos-related illnesses meant that a complete ban was long overdue.
Today, over 5000 people per year die from exposure, with mesothelioma and lung cancer accounting for the majority.

And because of the delay in a total ban, many of the properties built during this period could well be dangerous to anyone working on them even today.

Worried about asbestos in your property?

If your building was constructed pre-2000, you might understandably want peace of mind about asbestos.

A comprehensive asbestos survey is the best way to establish whether any is present and determine what your next steps should be.

To ask any questions or discuss your requirements with a specialist, please get in touch today.