Hackney warns asbestos is present in two thirds of its council homes

Hackney Council is working on a new online reporting tool for noise complaints. Picture: Ken Mears

Hackney Council is working on a new online reporting tool for noise complaints. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Hackney Council has warned asbestos is present in two thirds of its properties, and has urged residents to get in touch with the Town Hall before carrying out any work on their own homes.

Head of resident safety Donna Bryce explained to councillors the amount of properties with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) is normal for a housing stock of the age of Hackney's, at a meeting.

The council is developing an online portal for residents to access surveys and management plans, and has trained all staff in asbestos management to make sure enquiries are dealt with promptly.

Bryce said: "Key for us is making sure that residents don't always have to ring us up, they can go straight on to a database and get the information for themselves.

"We've got so many houses, so we're saying to tenants, if you are going to do any works, give us a ring and we can tell you where your asbestos is, if it's there."

Building materials containing asbestos were widely used until the 1980s before being finally banned in 1999.

There has been a reduction in the number of reports of disturbed or damaged asbestos coupled with a "large increase" in the number of reports of the material's suspected presence.

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The danger to health from undisturbed asbestos is currently thought to be minimal. But if products containing asbestos are sanded or drilled, harmful fibres can become airborne.

If ACMs are found to be in good condition they are left in situ, and only removed if they are likely to be disturbed through a repair, improvement or alteration.

Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, a serious long-term scarring of the lungs, an incurable condition which increases the risks of lung cancer.

The material can be found in boiler insulation, textured wall and ceiling coatings, or panels behind radiators.

Cllr Sharon Patrick (Lab, Kings Park) said: "It's great we're training our operatives, but I'm sure there will be many occasions where tenants are drilling through asbestos, because they don't know where it is.

"We need to make sure that tenants, residents and freeholders know where it is in their property. I would hate for anybody to get ill by drilling through it and not knowing. Most people aren't thinking about it if they're doing things to their properties to make it a bit better."

For more information see hackney.gov.uk/asbestos.