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The real risk posed by asbestos in soil

The risks of asbestos in buildings is now well known and managed, but asbestos in soil remains an area under development.

The use of asbestos in construction and other common place materials was not totally banned in the UK until 1999. Before the message about the risks posed by asbestos really penetrated the construction industry, there were many examples of refurbishment and demolition activities that resulted in asbestos being left on site and in the ground.

The extent of asbestos contamination of soil is not known, but it is proving to be widespread and relatively common in Made Ground, particularly where demolition of older buildings has occurred.

CIRIA published a guidance document on asbestos in soil in August 2014 – C733 Asbestos in soil and made ground: a guide to understanding and managing risk. Scientific understanding of the risks from low level exposure to asbestos is developing all the time, and there is strong evidence that it poses a small, but real risk to human health.

Where asbestos is found in the soil, remediation may be required. Remediation methods vary, but all must consider the risks of both the remediation phase and the proposed end development.

The successful investigation, assessment and management of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) at many sites will require skills, knowledge and experience from the consultants and contractors. A ground investigation, including a desk study, is a crucial step in the assessment process.

agb Geo-environmental staff are experienced and capable in the investigation, management and remediation of asbestos contaminated soils.

For more information about the potential and risks of asbestos in soil, contact Simon Pike at agb Environmental on 01638 663226 or email

Contaminated Land, News