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Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral silicate.  It was widely used between 1950 and 1980 as a building material because it has very useful properties, it is a good insulator and is fire resistant. The use of Asbestos in building material was banned in 1999 as exposure is known to cause a number of incurable conditions. Asbestos fibres are so small they cannot be seen by the naked eye, and diseases resulting from exposure can take between 15 and 60 years to develop.

Wherever asbestos containing materials are located there is a risk of exposure if asbestos fibres are released. Fibre release is most likely to occur if asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) are disturbed and/or damaged. The level of fibre release is dependent upon the type and extent of the damage and the type and composition of the ACM. Those most likely to be exposed to asbestos fibres are workers engaged in maintenance, decoration and repair work. The management of ACMs in school buildings is a shared responsibility.  Detailed information on this is provided in the Asbestos Control and Management Compliance Code but an ‘at a glance’ guide is provided below:

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