Asbestos Services

Asbestos retrospective risk assessment

IOM's incident assessment and the associated risks to health

Asbestos Retrospective Risk Assessment

There are occasions in which unintended exposure to asbestos can occur, which understandably can give rise to concern and anxiety for those involved. In those instances, an expert, thorough and careful retrospective assessment of the probable exposure and potential contribution to lifetime risk is something which clients find extremely valuable.

IOM uses its vast experience and expertise to assess the exposures that have occurred, and then reviews the known relationships between exposure and future risk to health to estimate the risk of cancer in each incident.

Our investigations normally consist of four stages:

  • Stage one: First, we gather information about the specific incident.
  • Stage two: We estimate concentrations of asbestos in the air using the scientific literature, our own extensive practical experience, any existing air concentration measurements and our own measurements.
  • Stage three: The exposure of each individual is estimated from the duration of exposure and the estimated concentration in the air.
  • Stage four: The risks of contracting lung cancer and mesothelioma are derived from the estimated exposures using widely accepted exposure-response models, which take age, gender and smoking habits in to account.

IOM's incident reports

Our carefully constructed, authoritative reports provide the best possible estimates of risk and are tailored to each individual situation. They describe the methods used, the sources of information and the estimated risks of cancer. The estimated risks are always put in to context by comparing the asbestos related risks with common hazards such as smoking or road accidents, as well as benchmark levels of risk used by some authorities to define "acceptable" levels of risk.

We have applied this approach to risks from asbestos in schools, fragmented asbestos cement on rights of way, damage to asbestos ceiling tiles in offices, inadvertent disturbance of asbestos containing materials, and asbestos contamination of soils.

If the risks are low, as they often are, our reports provide reassurance to staff or public. They can be used to assess the requirement for remediation work and are sometimes utilised in civil litigation cases. Although we may find that the risk from an individual incident is low, our reports will also affirm the importance of preventing repetition of such incidents.

Assessment of risk from asbestos in soils

We have used the same approach in contaminated land risk assessments concerning asbestos. This work has been undertaken to help assess risks from past exposure, as well as to help assess how best to deal safely with soil that is contaminated with asbestos, and to determine whether "significant possibility of significant harm" (SPOSH) exists under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Our reports provide the rational technical basis for either the developer to assess and demonstrate whether a site is "safe and suitable for use", or the Local Authority to form their decision as to the condition of land under Part IIA.

For more information please contact Alan Jones on 0131 449 8000, or email him at alan.jones@iom-world.org.