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Asbestos events will focus on land contamination

Picture of asbestos contamination in the Spodden ValleyA series of one-day events will be taking place around the UK on the issue of asbestos in soil – an issue that is of crucial important to the construction industry and one which gives rise to a growing amount of litigation and even criminal cases.

The events begin at Belfast City Council’s Cecil Ward Building on 24 June with Good practice – Assessment of Asbestos Risk from the Ground, a training day by the Local Authority Contaminated Land Network. It will provide an introduction to asbestos in soil, reviewing the types of asbestos and the toxicology associated with asbestos.

The event is of special interest to local authorities, clients, housebuilders, consultants and contractors.

The previous focus on asbestos has dealt with the management of asbestos contamination within buildings, the introduction to the event points out. However, the results of the thousands of investigations at contaminated sites across the UK have shown that asbestos is frequently identified in made ground and there has been ambiguity in the approach to assessing risk.

The training day will include proposed methodology for investigating asbestos contamination in soils and assessment of risk and mitigation strategies: issues which are discussed in the report from the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), Asbestos in Soil and Made Ground: a Guide to Understanding and Managing Waste.

That publication will also inform a one-day conference, Risk Assessment and Management of Asbestos in Soil, to be held at Heriot Watt University on 10 September and at CIRIA’s London headquarters on 2 October. The conference will discuss the occurrence, assessment and modelling issues of asbestos in soil. It will also review recent environmental, health and safety and waste legislation and provide an update on current practice and research.

Asbestos is a toxic and class 1 carcinogen known to cause serious illnesses such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis; yet for many decades it was widely used in construction materials in concrete, roofing and insulation. Currently in the UK between two and three thousand people die of asbestos related disease every year.

According to CIRIA, the report, published in March, is the first good practice guidance on the topic in the UK since 1990.It represents a major milestone in defining the way the UK should manage asbestos. Subsequently a number of research projects concerning fibre release and background levels have been initiated which will help to reduce uncertainties in these areas.

“Until valid findings are produced from these studies,” CIRIA says, “there is no ‘ideal’ way to manage asbestos risk at present. Many practitioners are faced with asbestos issues every day and therefore need to be aware of good, affordable and pragmatic practice.”

The conference will:

• Discuss the uncertainties in understanding risk assessment and a review of the usefulness of available risk models

• Review recent environmental, health and safety and waste legislation, including civil law

• Review good practice in air monitoring and sampling techniques

• Highlight current laboratory analysis abilities (a laboratory visit is included in event in Edinburgh)

• Examine good practice site investigations through case study examples

• Examine how to deal with different site conditions and waste management issues through case study examples

• Provide an update with recent research such as studies on fibre release and background levels

• Highlight the major findings of CIRIA Report C733 – Asbestos in soil and made ground

• Showcase good practice in different parts of the world

• Provide opportunities to network with regulators, clients and other professional advisors.

Booking for all the events is available via the CIRIA website, at

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 10:25