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Asbestos in Soil: Changes

The publication of new guidance from CIRIA in March 2014 entitled “Asbestos in soil and made ground: a guide to understanding and managing risks” has provided us with a framework for assessing risk to human health from soil contaminated with asbestos.

Continuing to enable development in every project, agb Environmental welcomes the change to adapt to a “lines of evidence” approach to assessing the risks from contamination.

Asbestos in soil has frequently incurred an over-cautious approach when removing, ultimately surrendering to a hefty price when disposal may not even be necessary. The cost of testing, air monitoring, regulator liaison and the import of replacement soil may be an unnecessary expense for the client.

However, NOT assessing the risks properly could put human health at risk, leading to asbestos related diseases whilst leaving landowners and developers open to claims from workers and the public.

Each site is, and will always be, different offering an array of varying factors that need to be taken into consideration when conducting a risk assessment. For example, a drastic disparity between whole fragments of asbestos is found compared to loose fibres found in soil. Applying hazardous waste thresholds as an assessment of risk is commonly seen but is inappropriate.

Asbestos can also come in a variety of forms ranging from cement sheets, pipe lagging, spray coatings and insulating boards, which can be present in soil in a variety of ways (e.g. loose fibres or bound cement). This, combined with a range of soil types and the condition of the asbestos infused material, provides a number of elements that need to be assessed before any risk to construction workers and end users of a development can be gauged.

If your site is found to be potentially contaminated, our qualified consultants at agb Environmental should be employed at the earliest stage possible. In the long run, this may save you substantial sums of money relating to construction delays and liability for damage to human health.

Once the results have come back, agb Environmental will take into account the proposed development to evaluate the risk and can advise you on your project.

For further information and to discuss potential asbestos presence, please contact Alex Brearley on 01638 663226 or email

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