Asbestos: when the hazard is at dwelling (and also you don't comprehend it) | Business | EUROtoday

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If the constructing you reside in was constructed greater than three many years in the past, it is extremely seemingly that it comprises asbestos, a cloth that may be very harmful to well being. Asbestos was thought-about a miraculous part within the development sector through the twentieth century attributable to its properties and low worth. The enemy is inside the home.

It will not be attainable to know intimately what number of residential buildings there’s asbestos, since there isn’t any official census. Only city councils are obliged to maintain a register of their public properties, however the reality is that not all of them have achieved so, a lot much less in an exhaustive method. “It is estimated that between 30% and 40% of buildings in Spain have materials with asbestos in some of their parts, although practically the majority of buildings exist before the 1980s,” estimates Adolfo García Alonso, supervisor of dMol. , an organization approved for the administration and removing of asbestos that carries out greater than 100 interventions a yr.

Spaniards stay amongst a whole bunch of 1000’s of tons of asbestos, a cloth that may trigger lung, larynx and ovarian most cancers, mesothelioma (most cancers of the pleura or peritoneum) and pulmonary fibrosis, in line with the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, it’s accountable for 88,000 deaths yearly in Europe, in line with the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (Separ).

It is straightforward to acknowledge it within the corrugated fiber cement roofs that crown many buildings. Covers that, on some events, have been manipulated to put in tv antennas or boiler retailers. “As a general rule, when it is not tiles or metal sheets, it is uralite with asbestos. It looks like cement and over time it tends to get stains in gray or white tones,” explains García Alonso. These have been the uralite roofs of 116 communities of householders within the Meseta de Orcasitas neighborhood, in Madrid. The removing of those covers, after years of wrestle by its neighbors, started in 2020.

The poisonous materials was utilized in numerous components: downspouts, water tanks, vertical partitions, boiler joints, vinyl flooring… “It was incorporated into constructions from the 60s to the 90s. It has accompanied us in many elements of our homes thanks to their resistance, ability to withstand high temperatures and insulating properties,” says Laureano Matas, common secretary of the Superior Council of the Colleges of Architects of Spain (CSCAE).

And so it was till Spain banned its manufacture and advertising in 2002. The downside is that the footprint of asbestos continues to be lengthy and harmful. And, for that reason, the European Union has established a plan to get rid of it utterly: in public buildings in 2028 and for the remainder of buildings (properties, industrial warehouses…) earlier than 2032. However, “at the current pace, Spain has a difficult time reach those dates with all of the affected properties free of asbestos,” considers Matas.

Especially if one looks at the communities of owners, who are not obliged to remove the asbestos already present in their buildings. Although the regulations include exceptions: except if the installation is after 2002, if it has exceeded its useful life of 30 years or if deterioration or fragility of the material is observed. As long as the asbestos remains intact “we can be safe,” reassures the general secretary of the architects. “The danger to health is its fragmentation and subsequent inhalation due to the release of fibers by the people who live in these buildings,” he adds.

What happens is that in many properties the useful life of the material has already been exceeded and the neighbors have not taken measures, among other things because they are unaware of its condition. What's more, “from the age of 20 onwards, defibrillation happens and the person is uncovered to this degradation of their dwelling,” comments Jorge Vila Lozano, a lawyer specializing in the issue.

However, a material with asbestos affected by inclement weather and solar radiation, whose useful life is shorter, is not the same as a pipe that is protected within the building. “The newest asbestos we find is 25 years old and many times it is already in a friable or fragile state. The normal thing is that we see asbestos that already has between 35 and 60 years of useful life,” indicates the dMol manager. In that case, the time has come to intervene.


The CSCAE recommends its removal even if there is no apparent risk or the elements are intact. Especially at the current time, in which hundreds of properties are undertaking energy rehabilitation with the financial support of the Next Generation funds, which contemplate up to a maximum of 1,000 euros per home or 12,000 euros per building to get rid of the carcinogenic substance. “The communities of owners are removing the material required by the application for subsidies, since public organizations require it to be eligible for aid,” says Enrique Fernández, Architecture advisor at the College of Property Administrators of Madrid.

In the event that there are no subsidies involved, it is rare for neighbors to assume the high cost of removing the material. It is the experience of José A. Rodríguez, technician at the IMM Gestión y Rehabilitación company, specialized in interventions in communities of owners. “In those cases, they usually make small repairs through patches or encapsulate it by illegally placing another covering on top because it is not done as the norm,” says the technician. Something that the CSCAE describes as reckless. “There are no effective solutions to energetically rehabilitate a building while leaving the asbestos coverings hidden,” says Matas.

Handling this toxic product without taking extreme safety measures is extremely dangerous. In Spain, only companies that belong to the RERA (Registry of Companies with Asbestos Risk) can carry out this work. “The operators have particular prior coaching and fixed refreshment, protecting fits, disposable underwear, gaiters, respiratory safety tools…”, they list in dMol, a company approved by RERA. Once removed, it is placed in asbestos encapsulation bags, which prevents the fibers from being released during transport. “Asbestos can only be taken to authorized landfills and they are not easy to find. There are provinces that do not have it and force us to transport it for many kilometers, having to increase the budget,” García concludes. The average budget depends on the type of action and the surface. “There is a minimum fixed cost of between 2,000 and 3,000 euros per intervention. For larger actions, it is usually about 15 euros per square meter of sheets or linear meter of downspout,” says García.

Currently, when buying a home, no document is required to certify that it has asbestos. “If it is discovered by the purchasing party, they can judicially demand its withdrawal with a reduction in the price or the termination of the contract for the sale of the home. Consequently, if the seller does not disclose it and has asbestos, it is considered a hidden defect that is compensable,” explains lawyer Jorge Vila Lozano. The expert believes that “notaries have before them a task of unquestionable social utility and through them it may be required that, in their public deeds of sale, they include the requirement to the seller verifying whether the property transferred has the presence of asbestos or any other substance. harmfulness linked to the manifestation of any constructive vice (in addition to the hidden one).” This would lead to a reduction in litigation. The seller is responsible in any case, even if he was unaware of its presence.

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