§ Mr. Cryer
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between his Department and the Health and Safety Commission with regard to the dangers arising from the use of asbestos in flats and other local authority buildings; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Freeson
Yes, I am satisfied. My Department is in close touch with the Health and Safety Executive and will contribute as fully as possible to the work of the committee set up under the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission to make a wide-ranging review of the health risks from asbestos. That work will cover, as well as environmental questions, the use of asbestos in buildings. As work proceeds and the technical assessment of the asbestos content of building materials and components is weighed against the medical assessment of the health risks, we hope to issue advice to local authorities and other building owners.
Asbestos and asbestos-based products have been widely used in buildings of all sorts for many years. Their resistance to fire and to decay which contributes to the safety and well being of occupants 180W must be weighed against the danger of abestos dust. Present evidence suggests that this principally arises where people are exposed to asbestos fibres dispersed into the air, through wear or misuse. While building owners will wish to satisfy themselves about the condition of their buildings, any wholesale removal of asbestos from buildings could itself create a hazard. In any event removal should only be undertaken by a specialist contractor who understands this hazard, and the precautions required by law.