Asbestos in soils
Produced in partnership with Angus Evers of Shoosmiths
Asbestos in soils

The following Environment guidance note Produced in partnership with Angus Evers of Shoosmiths provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Asbestos in soils
  • Summary
  • The need for guidance
  • The 2014 CIRIA guidance
  • Compliance with CAR 2012
  • The 2016 CL:AIRE/JIWG guidance
  • Defra report on background concentrations of asbestos in near surface soils in public open space areas
  • Appointing asbestos contractors and consultants


In March 2014, the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) issued new guidance for the management of risks associated with the presence of asbestos in soils and made ground. This Practice Note explains the background to the CIRIA report and summarises the main features of the guidance. It also highlights that the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 also applies to asbestos in soils.

The need for updated guidance

The number of deaths from asbestos related diseases in the UK has risen dramatically in recent decades, at about 2000 per year in 2010 and expected to peak at around 3400 deaths per year in 2020. This is largely due to the long latency period from exposure before symptoms develop as well as continued unintentional exposure, particularly in the construction sector.

Conversely, awareness of the issues of asbestos in soil has been growing over recent years. When considering sites for development, this awareness translates into more specific investigation testing and analysis which has resulted in a significant increase in sites being identified with asbestos. However, there are areas of considerable uncertainty in the potential for asbestos fibres to be released from soil which means the characterisation and assessment of risk is not straightforward.

On 26 March 2014 the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) published the much awaited