Asbestos

Where is asbestos found?

A mineral fibre banned in Belgium since 1998, asbestos is still present in many products. It is found in certain well-known materials such as asbestos-cement corrugated plates. In other cases, it is more difficult to find. The following elements should be checked (non-exhaustive list):

  • Corrugated plates;
  • False ceilings;
  • Windowsills;
  • Floor coverings;
  • Chalky insulation around heating pipes;
  • Joints and gaskets;
  • Smoke and aeration pipes;
  • Marble floors and imitations.

The only way to be certain of the presence of asbestos in a product is to have it analysed by a laboratory approved by the Federal Public Service (FPS) for Employment, Labour and Social Consultation.

Do you require authorisation or a specific document?

The federal asbestos inventory

Based on the Royal Decree of 16 March 2006, all employers must prepare an inventory (FR) of the materials present in the workplace and containing asbestos (building, machines, protection measures, etc.).

Elements which are inaccessible or in good condition must only be analysed when they are the subject of works. The employer must then prepare their inventory and submit it to those in charge of the site.

If the employer does not have the required knowledge to prepare this inventory, they may contact a specialist such as an architect or a laboratory approved by the Federal Public Service (FPS) for Employment, Labour and Social Consultation.

The inventory must be updated and reviewed at least once a year.

The environmental permit or the declaration in the Brussels-Capital Region.

The demolition or transformation of a building or structure with a total gross surface area greater than 500 m² and subject to a planning permit authorising the construction having been issued before 1 October 1998 must be the subject of a prior class III declaration to the municipality..

The majority of asbestos removal and encapsulation sites must be the subject of a prior class I.C. declaration or, in the most significant cases, an application for a temporary class I.V. environmental permit from Environment Brussels.

The class III declaration forms and the class I.C. declaration forms or the environmental permit application can be found on the Environment Brussels website  (only availaible in French or Dutch). These steps will often be taken, where applicable, by the contractor or company approved for the demolition and asbestos removal works. (See point 3)

When submitting the application, each of these forms must be supplemented by a regional asbestos inventory or a compulsory "destructive" inventory (which is different from that set out in point 2.1. See french version), established using a standard form (french document) and which is not carried out by the person in charge of the works. It includes, among others, a history of the building, a survey and sampling of the contaminated materials, an evaluation of the risks in the zone(s) affected by the works, descriptions of the different asbestos applications present on the site, and the location plans for the different applications. It should be noted that this inventory is required for buildings with a planning permit authorising construction issued before 1998.

Small sites not meeting the minimum criteria for classified installations (sections 27 and 28) are not subject to all of the authorisations described above. However, they will be subject to particular attention concerning reducing the dispersal of fibres during works and during the removal of waste (see point 3).

Don't hesitate to browse the summary table (FR) produced by Environment Brussels on the authorisations required based on the type of asbestos removal site.

Which asbestos removal procedures exist, and who do I need to contact?

The removal methods are established by Environment Brussels in the prior declaration (I.C.) or the environmental permit (I.B.) based on the nature of the site, the status, type, and quantity of materials containing asbestos.

There are four methods for removing asbestos as defined in the decree from the Brussels-Capital Region government dated 10 April 2008:

  • Simple removal in a marked-off area;
  • The method using a removal bag;
  • Removal in a semi-hermetic zone;
  • Removal in a hermetic zone;

The removal is carried out:

  • Either by qualified workers having received specific training, with an annual refresher when exposure is extremely limited or sporadic;
  • Or by a company approved (FR) for any other demolition or asbestos removal work.

Air quality measurements must also be taken during the work and/or at the end of the it according to the provisions defined in the authorisation (declaration or environmental permit) submitted to Environment Brussels

Remember that regardless of the removal or demolition technique used, asbestos is a dangerous waste and requires great care when handling. You can find more information on asbestos waste management on this website's "waste management" page. 

Updated 28/07/2017

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