Due to recent press reports, it is becoming increasingly evident that the presence of asbestos in older existing buildings is to be expected. The former "miracle building material" asbestos continues to pose major problems for the trades, especially for construction and maintenance work in older buildings, almost 30 years after it was banned from manufacture and use on 31 October 1993. This issue affects all buildings that were built, rebuilt or modernised before 31 October 1993.
The use of asbestos in plasters, fillers and tile adhesives (PSF) until 1993 has been a topic of discussion among experts since 2015. However, this issue has not yet been communicated everywhere in the trade. Currently, the legal provisions for handling asbestos are being adapted to these findings. However, due to the need to involve various committees, it is not expected that the basic principles will be adapted in the near future.
This industry solution is intended to help the trades concerned to ensure occupational health and safety in the construction of existing buildings for the transitional period until adapted regulations are available.
According to TRGS 519, the only exceptions to the ban on production and use since November 1993 are demolition, renovation and maintenance work (ASI work), which, however, may only be carried out by specialised companies with the necessary safety and personal equipment. Suitable protective measures for the workers and the environment must be defined on the basis of risk assessments and monitored by competent supervisors. The definition of ASI work includes many of the activities performed by farmers in existing buildings, such as replacing door frames or windows, working on plasterboard constructions, making openings or drilling into walls, ceilings or floors. Thus, the aforementioned requirements of TRGS 519 must be fulfilled for this.
According to the instruction manual, it must be assumed that asbestos-containing building materials are to be found in all buildings that were erected, converted or refurbished before 31.10.1993 if there is no reliable evidence that the materials are free of asbestos (laboratory or evidence of earlier refurbishment). In such cases, all work on potentially asbestos-containing materials may only be carried out by specialist companies (see above).
When installed, asbestos-containing PSF products are often covered by wallpaper, paints or floor coverings, so that they do not pose a health hazard during use. Although asbestos in PSF is only present in low concentrations in the building materials, hazardous fibre contamination in the air we breathe is possible, especially in the case of large-scale processing.