White asbestos on farms: how to spot, manage and dispose of it

Where you may find asbestos, how to reduce the risk of exposing it, when you need a licensed contractor and how to deal with asbestos waste.

Asbestos is a hazardous substance that can cause disease and death.

There are 6 types of asbestos. White asbestos, also known as chrysotile, is the most common type found on farms.

How to spot white asbestos

White asbestos is light grey.

You may find it:

  • mixed with blue or brown asbestos as pipe or boiler insulation
  • in panels between wallboards
  • in the brake linings of old vehicles
  • in corrugated roofing and cladding
  • in rainwater pipes and gutters

Flaking or powdering on damaged or worn surfaces could be a sign that the material contains asbestos. This is known as asbestos containing material (ACM).

You may expose or disturb asbestos fibres when you:

  • repair or replace mechanical parts, like clutch or brake linings on an old vehicle
  • remove or work on hot water systems with insulated pipes or boilers
  • drill or saw roof or wall panels, for example if you rewire or install fans or heaters
  • demolish buildings, roofs or walls built before 2000
  • drill, cut or break asbestos cement

What to do if you suspect or find asbestos

If you think you have ACM, avoid disturbing it. It can release fibres that may damage your lungs and cause cancer if inhaled.

Make a management plan

If you find asbestos or ACM in or on your farm buildings (except the farmhouse), you must make an asbestos management plan.

Check if you need a licensed contractor

Find out if you need to hire a licensed contractor to work on ACM.

Find a licensed contractor.

If you don’t need a contractor

Find out how to work safely with asbestos.

Dispose of asbestos

Asbestos is hazardous waste. Find out how to dispose of it.

Published 28 January 2015
Last updated 15 August 2016 + show all updates
  1. Removed guidance that's published elsewhere on GOV.UK and Health and Safety Executive website, and linked to it.

  2. What to do if you expose asbestos - you no longer need to register your farm with the Environment Agency if you produce more than 500kg of hazardous waste per year.

  3. First published.