Asbestos Management

The Asbestos team is responsible for managing and removal of asbestos materials from UCL's buildings.

Some of UCL’s premises were built or refurbished at a time when the use of asbestos containing materials was common. The presence of an asbestos material in itself does not constitute a danger if it is well managed and in a good condition. For this reason, UCL have a stringent Asbestos Management Plan and safety policies designed to effectively manage the asbestos materials.

Normal occupancy activities within the University buildings is unlikely to cause any damage to these items. Building and maintenance works are planned to ensure safe working around these materials.

The UCL Asbestos team regularly check the condition of all asbestos materials.

Where asbestos is to be removed, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) must be informed in writing 14 days before the work commences. Asbestos removal works are highly controlled and are carried out by a UCL approved specialist contractor.  Air monitoring records are also obtained during the works.  

Asbestos Labels
Asbestos label

You may see asbestos labels across campus in various locations. The labels themselves do not represent an elevated danger. 

These are warning labels and are not intended to cause any undue concern. They act as an additional tool to prevent any accidental damage. 

Asbestos warning image

Frequently Asked Questions

If you discover asbestos

Any member of staff who discovers or suspects the presence of asbestos containing materials during the course of their work must report the discovery to their immediate line manager who will consult the UCL Asbestos Manager. No work can proceed in an area identified as containing asbestos before this consultation. 

Asbestos survey timescale

Indicative stages of the survey process to be considered and planned for. 

Survey requestProcessed and sent to Lucion within 24 hours (one working day)
New project initial site visitWithin five working days of the survey request carry out the new project initial site visit
Submission of proposalWithin three working days following site visit
Proposal agreed and approvedWithin three working days - the university project officer must approve/reject request (cost and scope of works) and raise PO
Site survey commencementWithin five working days: two working days to organise access and three working days for other issues or by arrangement.
Analysis of material samplesMay take 5 to 10 working days following completion of site works.
Submission of final report and drawingsWithin 20 working days following completion of site works.


The health effects of asbestos

Asbestos is the name used to describe a group of silicates which occur naturally in fibrous form and currently has many uses in a wide variety of applications and throughout various branches of the construction industry. Types of asbestos include:

  • Chrysotile - commonly known as 'white asbestos'
  • Crocidolite - commonly known as 'blue asbestos' 
  • Amosite - commonly known as 'brown asbestos' 

Exposure to asbestos fibres can, in certain circumstances, lead to three diseases: asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma of the pleura or peritoneum. It can also cause a group of benign conditions of the pleura.

Asbestos cement products and other low-risk asbestos materials

It should be noted that work with asbestos cement products may not present the same health risks as other asbestos materials. However, the regulations still apply and assessments to determine exposure levels and the type of asbestos must still be conducted.

In some circumstances it may not be necessary to use the asbestos licensed contractor, however, the advice of the UCL Asbestos Manager must always be obtained first.   

Identifying asbestos

The only satisfactory method of identifying the presence and type of asbestos is to examine a bulk sample of material by X-ray diffraction or by microscopy. This must be carried out by the UCL approved asbestos consultant who will update the asbestos records accordingly. 

Products containing asbestos

Some UCL departments have recently found products containing asbestos. Asbestos was historically used in products because of its good insulating qualities and fire and chemical resistance. Equipment bought new after the year 2000 should not contain any asbestos materials but older equipment may contain asbestos, such as:

  • heatproof materials
  • insulating mats
  • fire blankets
  • oven gloves
  • ironing surfaces
  • equipment with soundproofing
  • thermal insulation
  • brakes - brake shoes, pads and linings.

If you suspect asbestos in any UCL building, please contact the UCL asbestos manager as soon as possible.