What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral consisting of thin fibers. In the Netherlands, asbestos was most commonly used as a building material from the 1950s to the 1980s, especially for roofing and insulation. This is because asbestos has excellent heat- and fire-resistant properties, is low cost, and the material lasts a long time. It was also used in homes as a fire-resistant material around stoves and fireplaces.
The danger of asbestos
It was later discovered that inhaling asbestos fibers could lead to serious health problems. Because of these risks, the use of asbestos in building materials was banned in the Netherlands in 1993.
When asbestos is found in solid form, this health risk is not as dramatic immediately, especially if it is behind paneling. Solid asbestos is bonded asbestos, where the fibers are firmly attached to the carrier material. If this form of asbestos is still in good condition and is not being worked on or demolished, hardly any fibers are released and do not pose an immediate danger. Therefore, this form of asbestos usually does not need to be removed immediately.
There is an acute health hazard when the solid form loosens, and the fibers are released. If you want to do thorough remodeling, you need to consider this. There are strict rules regarding the handling and removal of asbestos. Typically, only specialized companies are allowed to remove asbestos, but homeowners may also dispose of small amounts of asbestos.
Where is asbestos found?
Asbestos is commonly used in the form of asbestos-containing cement. These types of asbestos cement sheets are commonly found in the facade, roof sheathing, and around chimneys. Around the home, asbestos can also be found in the corrugated sheets of garages or barns.
If the presence of asbestos is suspected and you wish to carry out demolition work or significant remodeling of the home, it is best to conduct an asbestos inspection first. Specially certified asbestos inventory companies can do such an asbestos inspection. During such an inspection, asbestos is located, and whether it needs to be removed is determined. However, sometimes it can remain in place.
During such an inspection, drilling and sawing may be done here and there in the home to locate asbestos. This involves an "invasive" inspection. This is why an asbestos inspection is usually performed if you own a home. The building inspection you can perform as a buyer while the house is not yet your property concerns only a visual inspection: Everything that can be observed visually without breaking things open is inspected. This is because a seller will not readily agree to have their home broken open in search of asbestos.