In a recent interview with Work In Mind (WIM), Stuart Ray, Our Technical Director at Airbox Sampling Products, delves into the growing concerns surrounding the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in public buildings in the UK and the associated risks of asbestos exposure during remedial work.
As the number of identified buildings with RAAC increases, especially in critical facilities such as hospitals and schools, the need to manage asbestos and RAAC coexistence becomes increasingly vital.
RAAC, a popular construction material used from the 1950s to the 1990s, is known to have a lifespan of only 30 years. While it offers some benefits, it often shares space with asbestos-containing materials like plasterboard and textured paint.
When RAAC needs to be removed or assessed, there is a risk of disturbing asbestos, releasing dangerous fibres into the air. Inhalation of these asbestos fibres poses serious health risks to both construction workers and building users, even after remedial work.
The situation is particularly concerning in schools. A 2023 report by the National Audit Office (NAO) estimates that over one third of school buildings in the UK are beyond their design life. For schools dealing with RAAC, the challenge is twofold: checking for RAAC and managing the potential risks.
The essential practice of high volume air sampling for asbestos
Air sampling for asbestos offers several advantages, such as checking the effectiveness of dust suppression methods during asbestos removal, compliance with requirements for the licensed removal of asbestos, generation of essential data for employee exposure records, and progress toward acquiring a Clearance Certificate, which certifies safe asbestos levels for occupation.
Stuart highlights that the industry is moving toward higher volume air sampling for asbestos, with clients demanding higher safety standards. At Airbox Sampling Products, we offer the Variflow XL air sampling pump, exceeding industry standards with its capacity to deliver a 10-hour run time at 16 litres per minute. This technology allows for precise and accurate asbestos assessment, facilitating the management of risks so delays in RAAC remedial work can be minimised, as well as disruption to essential public services and education.
To learn more about the safety risk of RAAC and our air sampling solutions for asbestos, read the full WIM article here.