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Whiter shade

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This column is not in the habit of lifting material from other publications, having no need to do so. However, a longrunning story in the Sunday Telegraph has taken on such significance for architects, especially those involved with refurbishment and remedial small works that, in this instance, I pass it on. The story, more accurately described as a scandal, has been monitored by Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph.It concerns the forthcoming EC directive on the treatment of asbestos in buildings, (no doubt partly influenced by the appalling waste involved in stripping out and then demolishing the major EU building in Brussels, the Berlaymont). Booker's point is that the authorities, he suspects knowingly, have lumped together blue asbestos, which like brown asbestos is highly dangerous, and white asbestos, which is a very different matter, and is used in 85 per cent of buildings in Britain.

Last week's House of Lords ruling in respect of the victim of mesothelioma concerned the former material, not the latter.

This is important because if blue or brown asbestos is found in a building, the complications in its removal are considerable, as is the cost. Work has to be undertaken by specialists, most of whom belong to a trade body called the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association. Booker has found several cases where specialist firms have quoted for work on the basis of their full service, when nothing of the sort is required. For small works it is perfectly possible to organise cheap removal and replacement contracts, with the full approval of the HSE. But big business and the EU seem to be pushing us towards vastly expensive and unnecessary procedures. Booker's campaign has been helped by chemist and surveyors John Bridle. For more information contact him on jbridle@whiteasbestos. fsnet. co. uk

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