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Until the 1970s, asbestos, which we find in nature in the form of a mineral, was considered a material with many advantages, such as its elasticity, its resistance to heat and chemicals, its easy extraction, its easy bonding to other materials and its durability. It is no coincidence that asbestos was used from the 1950s to the 1990s in various sectors as well as in construction. Today we know that this “miracle” fibre causes serious damage to health. Since 1 March 1989, asbestos has been classified in Switzerland as a dangerous substance for the respiratory tract and its use in the manufacture of products has been banned. Since 1994 it has also been prohibited to import into Switzerland objects, products or preparations containing asbestos.

When is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos is not harmful if it is in a dormant state, if it is part of other products, such as building materials; we are talking about adhesives, thermal and acoustic insulation, electrical installations, building covers, chimneys, etc. It poses a health hazard if its fibres are inhaled; this happens, for example, during the renovation of a house, when removing tiles, carpets, insulating materials or other materials, if these fibres are dispersed in the air and inhaled. These small asbestos fibres can also be dispersed in the environment by vibrations, air currents and temperature changes. These asbestos particles, when inhaled, are highly carcinogenic and can cause asbestosis, a form of pulmonary interstitial fibrosis.

How can I know if the house I buy contains asbestos?

Asbestos was used in building materials until the 1990s. It is therefore likely that these asbestos fibres were present in many residential buildings before 1990. If a buyer wants to buy a property that was built before 1990 and then do some renovation work, he would have to agree with the owner of the property to have an expert report carried out to check whether asbestos is present. If the building was contaminated with asbestos, the renovation process would require the use of experts and the cost of removing asbestos should not be underestimated. Any work involving the release of asbestos fibres that are harmful to health may only be carried out by companies specialising in asbestos removal and recognised by SUVA/INSAI (Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund). Asbestos waste must then be disposed of, and this process, in turn, may only be carried out by firms which are designated for this purpose.

 

In order to avoid unpleasant surprises, it is essential to be accompanied by real estate professionals who can give you the best possible support and advice, especially on sensitive issues such as asbestos.

 

You can find the companies that carry out asbestos tests here:

Canton of Ticino

Sitaf Isolazioni SA

DEG.MO SAGL

Galli Partners Consulting SA

Tecnotetto SA

EcoRisana SA

BB&A Buri Bauphysik & Akustik AG

CPR SA

Econs SA

Galli + Co. GmbH Brandschutztechnik

Lamy Perizia Survey & Appraisal SA

SIMATECH SA

ECOCONTROL SA

Canton of Grisons

D. Martinelli AG

Carlo Wüst & Partner

Speztec AG

Experte IBH Markus Durrer

BB&A Buri Bauphysik & Akustik AG

Galli + Co. GmbH Brandschutztechnik