Asbestos in your French Property

Derived from the Greek word for ‘’unquenchable’’, asbestos is a natural material and has been used since 2500 BC in winding sheets, pottery and various other applications. It can be found in tiles, false ceilings, roofs, cement drain pipes, panels, partitions, insulation boards, etc.

Asbestos is considered to be a lethal product in France and all use and manufacture of asbestos based materials has been forbidden since 1997, but nevertheless remains widespread in buildings due to its ability to resist corrosion and sustain high temperatures without deterioration.

In the French property purchasing procedure, it is required by law that an inspection of the property is made prior to the signing of any contracts to ascertain the presence of asbestos. This law applies to all properties built before the 1st of July 1997 and must be carried out by a registered, qualified surveying company who will then need to provide a certificate and a report. For asbestos, this certificate is valid for one year only and must be renewed if a contract is signed after that period. Should asbestos be found, the owners are immediately required to inform the workers working on the property of its existence so that they wear the appropriate protective clothing and dispose of the rubbish appropriately. If the asbestos is found to be in poor condition however, the owner may be required to check its condition on a regular basis, or have an expert remove it within a period of three years

The inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis, asbestos warts, pleural plaques and other pulmonary diseases and normally affect people who have exposure to it on a day to day basis or people who often work directly with it. Illnesses are unlikely to result from a single, high-level exposure or from a short period of exposure to lower levels.

Most asbestos containing materials found in properties are normally safe until disturbed or damaged and so people should normally always leave asbestos alone for as long as possible. However, once broken or damaged, asbestos could become a serious hazard.

Certain materials can only be handled by licensed contractors whilst others can be removed by builders or people who have sufficient experience in dealing with asbestos cement removals.

Listed below are a few simple and basic rules you should always remember when dealing with asbestos based materials:

– Get specialist advice from an asbestos surveyor
– Cover all surfaces with disposable polythene sheets
– Seal off the area where the work is being carried on
– Wear disposable protecting clothing and gloves
– Remove the asbestos without breaking it up or drilling
– Clear up any debris by wiping everything with a damp cloth
– Wrap and Seal properly for safe disposal
– Wash hands and face thoroughly
– Dispose of it at a local reclamation facility where you have special skips for asbestos.

To summarise, you should never panic if you find asbestos in your French property as it is normally a problem only if disturbed or broken. If you intend to purchase a property that contains asbestos, make sure you are aware of  risks linked to this material. If you decide to have any work done, you must inform the artisan or worker, and a form should be signed to this effect. Should you find asbestos in your property, please make sure to seek professional advice first and make sure you do not break or drill it.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 30th, 2010 at 5:37 pm and is filed under Convert French property, French Property, Living in France, Renovation works . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Asbestos in your French Property”

  1. Mandy Bale Says:

    If removing asbestos i.e a roof on a cottage – where can this be disposed of now? We were informed that a local dechetterie would be able to take it at Seglien? But once taken there they said they could not deal with it. We now have it in our garden – waiting to hear from local commune office as to where we can take it. Any comments/help gratefully received.

    Mandy Bale

  2. admin Says:

    Hi Mandy,

    Removing yourself asbestos from your roof could be hazardous. According to the legislation you should call upon a qualified professional to remove it safely. Only a few dechetterie accept asbestos and this in little quantity.
    I believe you are living in Brittany, then contact ADEME Bretagne for advice if you don’t have any answer from the Local commune office Ademe Brittany (Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maitrise de l’Energie) is based in Rennes:
    http://www.ademe.fr/bretagne/contacts/index.asp

    You can also contact the DDE (Direction Departementale de l’Equipement), based in Vannes:
    http://www.bretagne-environnement.org/Media/Acteurs/Organismes/DDE-56 They will help you find the right local building and abestos removal professionals. You shall find all the agencies’ details, emails and contact numbers on the Internet. Just make sure that abestos is removed as soon as possible from your garden.

    Laetitia Pellegrini

  3. Susan Baxter Says:

    we have been offered a property to buy however one half of the roof has asbestos! we understand the law of safe disposal.
    can we ask the seller to remove the asbestos at his cost?
    Is it legal to sell a property knowing it has asbestos ?

    thank you
    Susan


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