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Air handling units

Information on health risks associated with air conditioning
Air handling units within buildings may be linked to air conditioning systems.

Some air conditioning systems, for example those which use evaporative cooling, may pose potential health risks if not properly maintained.

The message is therefore 'make sure your air handling units are serviced at appropriate intervals, and follow the instructions by the supplier or manufacturer'.

  • Section dealing with asbestos removal and what to do if you think that your home may possibly contain asbestos.

    Why worry about asbestos in the home?
    If your property is more than 15 years old, it's possible that it contains materials made from asbestos.

    Common locations are listed below but there may be others in your home - so if in doubt leave well alone and seek expert help.

    This advice is aimed at householders. The Health and Safety Executive have produced a number of leaflets which are more appropriate for businesses.

    Common locations of asbestos:

    • Asbestos cement on garage or shed roofs
    • Asbestos cement shed and garage wall panels
    • Asbestos cement drain pipes
    • Asbestos cement or insulation boards, infill panels and partitions
    • Asbestos cement on the side of bath panels

    If your home is rented, your landlord may have relevant information.

    What to do if you have asbestos in your home

    • The general rule is to always leave asbestos alone, it's usually safe unless it's damaged or disturbed
    • Paint indoor materials with an alkali resistant paint, and never sand, drill or saw asbestos materials
    • Always seek advice before thinking of removing asbestos and follow the basic rules below if carrying out asbestos cement removal work. Do not try to remove asbestos lagging, spray coatings or large areas of insulation board by yourself as these materials can only be safely removed by a licensed contractor

    Safe asbestos cement removal
    Asbestos cement can be safely removed by remembering these basic rules:

    • Prepare the work area - remove any unnecessary items, cover the floor and surfaces with disposable polythene sheeting
    • Wear protective clothing- disposable overall with hood, disposable paper face mask (for use with asbestos) and rubber or disposable gloves
    • Damp down - use a plant sprayer or hosepipe but don't soak the area as this will make cleaning up more difficult
    • Remove the asbestos without breaking it up, wrap in polythene sheeting or bags and seal with tape
    • Visually inspect the area and clear up any debris by hand - wipe down with disposable damp clothes. Never use a vacuum cleaner as this will just spread dust around
    • Pick up polythene sheeting and remove protective clothing and dispose of both as asbestos waste
    • Wash hands and face after the job is completed

    Disposal of asbestos waste
    Asbestos cement can be disposed of free of charge by householders at the civic amenity site in Frizlands Depot, Rainham Road South, Dagenham. Please contact the site in advance to make sure there is sufficient space to take your asbestos.

    Small quantities of asbestos and other hazardous material can be collected from your home through an arrangement with the London boroughs. Please telephone 020 7332 3433 and leave your details.

    You will then be contacted and arrangements made to collect.

    If as a house holder, you intend to transport asbestos cement waste in your own vehicle, you do not need to be a registered carrier provided that it is your own waste.

    However, you should take the following steps to ensure that asbestos does not contaminate your car:

    • Spray sheets of asbestos cement with water
    • Double wrap or double bag the asbestos cement with heavy duty polythene
    • Ensure the wrapping is secured with tape
    • Make sure vehicle occupants do not have access to the asbestos waste

    What to do if you find asbestos

    • Do not panic if you think you have asbestos in your home - it's usually only a problem if it's disturbed
    • Do treat asbestos with respect
    • Do not drill, saw or disturb materials that contain asbestos
    • Do seek advice if you think you have got a problem with asbestos in your home
     
  • The Clean Air Act, 1993, introduced a wide range of new regulations such as those which control smoke emissions and the height of chimneys and those relating to the content and composition of motor fuels.

    The control of chimney heights enables local authorities to take into account a number of relevant factors in determining the height of a chimney.

    Under section 14 of the Act, unless the height of the chimney has been approved by the local authority and any conditions attached to approval adhered to, it is an offence to cause to cause or knowingly permit a furnace to be used to:

    • Burn pulverised fuel
    • Burn at a rate of 45.4 kg or more an hour any other solid matter; or
    • Burn at a rate equivalent to 366.4 kW or more any liquid or gaseous matter

    An application for chimney height approval must contain adequate information to enable the necessary calculations to be carried out.

    The local authority must consider an application for approval for chimney height for a furnace and give a written decision within 28 days of receipt, unless it is agreed in writing between us and the applicant that a longer period is allowed. If we fail to deal with the application within this time period, then approval without qualification is given.

    Barking and Dagenham is completely covered by smoke control areas. It is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney. If you want to have a real fire in your home, you should make sure that you either burn an authorised fuel (otherwise known as a smokeless fuel such as Coalite or Homefire) or burn fuel on an exempted fireplace, usually a specially designed closed stove.

     
  • The authority monitors construction activities to minimise pollution caused by noise, dust and other nuisances.

    The normal hours for noisy construction activities within Barking and Dagenham are 8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am - 1pm on Saturday with no work on Sunday or bank holidays. We have powers to limit the hours of construction, or to provide other restrictions on building methods or equipment by serving notices under the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

    If you are carrying out major construction works and consider that you may cause disturbance to surrounding occupiers, you may consider applying for prior approval for your work methods. This consent is issued under section 61 Control of Pollution Act 1974. Please contact us to discuss this.

     
  • Some land in this country has been contaminated in the past by industries such as:

    • Gas works
    • Tanneries
    • Chemical works
    • Landfills

    These are often called brownfield sites.

    The problem
    Brownfield sites can be a problem for 2 reasons:

    • There may be harmful substances in, on or under the land
    • Water pollution might be caused by substances at the site

    However, brownfield sites do not generally cause a problem unless they are redeveloped for a different use.

    Pollutant linkage
    Land is only declared 'contaminated' if:

    • It contains a source of pollution - the source
    • Someone (or something) could be affected by the pollutant - the receptor
    • The pollution can get to the 'receptor' - the pathway

    These 3 elements together are known as the pollutant linkage.

    Action required
    If you own or occupy contaminated land now, or you did in the past, you may be responsible for cleaning up the pollution. You may still be responsible for cleaning up the pollution after you have sold the land.

    Some contamination can be a hazard to current occupants or neighbours and the law says the problem must be put right immediately.

    Who pays?
    The law follows the 'polluter pays' principle - the person or organisation that caused or permitted the contamination must pay to have it put right. If that person or organisation is not known, then the current owner of the land may become responsible.

    Owners and occupiers of domestic properties are not usually liable for these costs.

    Re-use of brownfield sites
    The approval of an application for redevelopment of these sites will only be granted on condition that the contamination is cleaned up to a standard that makes it suitable for the new use of the land.

    You should obtain specialist advice from an environmental consultant or a specialist lawyer before you buy or sell contaminated land. When you buy land in Elmbridge, the Land Charges Department at the local council will tell you if a site has been declared 'contaminated land'.

    What the local council does about contaminated land
    The local council is responsible for enforcing the 'contaminated land' legislation. We:

    • Publish a Contaminated Land Strategy, which says how it will find contaminated sites in its area
    • Carries out inspections of land that may be contaminated targeting the sites that present the greatest potential risk
    • Finds out who is responsible for putting right the contamination and discusses the problem with them
    • Formally declares land contaminated
    • Agrees the necessary action and makes sure it is done
    • Keeps a public register of contaminated land sites, the action that was required to put the problem right and any legal action that has been taken

    In some cases the Environment Agency may take over the regulation of a site from the council, once it has been declared as 'contaminated land'.

    We are currently carrying out a planned programme of investigation for sites it has identified as being potentially contaminated. This programme will be running for the next 4 years.

     
  • Every year exposure to hazardous substances at work effects the health of many thousands of people.

    Common examples include lung disease (like dusty conditions), skin irritation, dermatitis or skin cancer (like frequent contact with oils, contact with corrosive liquids), occupational asthma (like sensitisation to isocyanates in paints or adhesives), toxic fumes and occupational cancer.

    The high costs of ill-health arise from loss of earnings, loss of productivity, prosecution and civil action amongst others.

    Introduction
    The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 1999, as amended by COSHH Regulations 2002.

    These provide a framework to help protect people in the workplace against health risks from hazardous substances. The substances may be used directly in the work (for example, cleaning chemicals, chemical reagents) or may arise from the work (for example, dusts, fumes and waste products).

    COSHH lays down a sensible step-by-step approach to the necessary precautions and is therefore a useful tool of good management. The potential for identifiable cost benefits (for example, tighter control over the use and storage of materials), improved morale and industrial relations have been widely realised.

    COSHH applies to virtually all substances hazardous to health. Exceptions include asbestos and lead (which have their own regulations) and substances which are hazardous only because they are radioactive, asphyxiants, at high pressure/temperature or have explosive/flammable properties.

    Definitions

    • Hazard - is the potential to cause harm
    • Risk - is the likelihood that it will harm you in the actual circumstances of use

    The risk will depend on a number of factors, such as the hazard presented by the substance, how it is used, how exposure is controlled, the degree and extent of exposure.

    COSHH requires the following:

    • Assessment of the risks
    • Deciding what precautions are needed
    • Prevention or control of the risks
    • Ensuring that control measures are used and maintained
    • Monitoring exposure and health surveillance, where necessary
    • Informing, instructing and training employees about the risks and precautions needed

    Assessment is a step-by-step approach:

    • Identify what hazards there are
    • Evaluate the risks to people
    • For significant risks, decide on the action needed to remove or reduce them to insignificant levels

    Assessment is the responsibility of the employer. People preparing the assessment will need to:

    • Have access to, and understand, COSHH, related legislation, codes of practice and published guidance
    • Be competent to carry through the work of assessment
    • Consult widely within the workforce and inform them of results accordingly
    • Consider peripatetic workers (who work for you on other premises)

    Hazards - Substances hazardous to health include:

    • Substances classified as dangerous to health under the Chemicals Hazard Information and Packing for Supply) (CHIP3) Regulations 2002. Many are listed in 'The Approved Supply List' which is part of the 'CHIP 3' regulations
    • Substances with occupational exposure limits (these are specified in Guidance Note EH40 which is revised annually)
    • Biological agents
    • Dusts of any kind in substantial concentrations

    Identification of hazardous substances can be sought from:

    • Hazard data sheets and labels from suppliers (required by law) from which you must draw conclusions relevant to the way the substance is used in the workplace
    • Knowledge from within your business or industry
    • Trade literature
    • Published guidance/documents
    • Part V of the Approved Supply List (Health and Safety Executive)

    Risks - Risk assessment involves looking at:

    • Use, handling, generation and release of hazardous substances
    • Who might be affected and likely exposure level/extent
    • Nature of exposure (breathing in, swallowing, skin absorption)
    • Current measures to prevent or control exposure - effectiveness and use?
    • Accidental leakage, spillage or release
    • Cleaning and maintenance operations

    Further action

    • No likelihood or insignificant risk - no further action until review of assessment
    • Risks identified - ensure appropriate control measures, in the following order of priority:
    • Prevention:
      • Change process/activity so that the hazardous substance is not required or generated
      • Replace with safer alternative (see HS(G)110 in Ref/Further Details section) substitution
      • Use it in safer form
    • Control may include any of the following:
      • Total enclosure of the process
      • Partial enclosure and extraction equipment
      • General ventilation
      • Using systems of work and handling procedures which minimise chances of spills and leaks or exposure to the substance(s)
    • Personal protective equipment (for example respirators, protective clothing) only as a last resort when you cannot adequately control exposure by any combination of the measures above.
      • Employees are required to make proper use of control measures and to report defects
      • Employers are required to keep controls in efficient working order and good repair. Engineering controls and respiratory protective equipment have to be examined and, where appropriate, tested at suitable intervals. Suitable records of all such actions taken must be kept
    • Monitoring exposure is required in certain circumstances, for example where there could be serious risks to health if control measures were to fail or deteriorate or where you cannot be sure that exposure limits are not being exceeded. Records of monitoring should be kept
    • Health surveillance is required
      • Where an employee is engaged in one of the processes listed in Schedule 5 of COSHH and is likely to receive significant exposure to the substance involved
      • Where employees are exposed to a substance linked to a particular disease or adverse health effect and there is reasonable likelihood under the conditions of the work of that disease or adverse health effect occurring and it is possible to detect the disease or adverse health effect. Suitable records must be kept for 40 years

    Recording and reviewing the assessment
    Unless the assessment is so simple that it can be easily recalled and its conclusions explained, it should be put in writing. Reviews should take place regularly, at not less than 5 yearly intervals, and in any case where it is no longer valid or there have been significant changes in the work.

    Informing, instructing and training employees
    Must be carried out by employers about the substances and their associated risks and precautions. Sufficient information and instruction should be given on control measures, personal protective equipment, results of any exposure monitoring or health surveillance and emergency procedures.

    The steps in making an assessment
    Checklist - Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

    Have you a complete inventory of substances used/generated in the workplace?
    Yes/No

    Have you identified any substances hazardous to health?
    Yes/No

    Have you gathered information about the substances, the work and working processes?

    • For instance what hazards are involved?

    Yes/No

    Have you evaluated the risks to health (either on an individual or group basis)?

    • For instance the chance of exposure occurring?
    • What level of exposure could happen?
    • The duration of the exposure
    • The frequency of the exposure?

    Yes/No

    Have you decided what needs to be done in terms of:

    • Preventing or controlling exposure?
    • Maintaining control measures?
    • Using control measures?
    • Any monitoring/surveillance?
    • Information, instruction and training?

    Yes/No

    Have you decided to record the assessment?
    Yes/No

    If 'yes' to (6), have you decided on the extent, presentation and format of record?
    Yes/No

    Have you decided when each assessment should be reviewed?
    Yes/No

    Have you established a system or procedure to manage and record the above elements?
    Yes/No

    Useful web links
    Health and Safety Executive
    COSHH essentials
    Easy steps to control health risks from chemicals

     
  • Complaints about excessive noise are investigated by officers who can take action if the noise is considered to be a statutory nuisance.

    When is noise nuisance a statutory nuisance?
    Noise nuisance is covered by Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This law empowers local authorities to deal with noise from fixed premises. Before action can be taken we have to be sure that the noise constitutes a statutory nuisance.

    This means that we have to prove that the noise is prejudicial to health and/or is causing an unreasonable and persistent disturbance to your lifestyle.

    There are a number of different sources of noise pollution and therefore the service is categorised into the following:

    • Neighbourhood noise (for example loud music)
    • Commercial noise (for example noisy machinery, pubs and clubs)
    • Aircraft noise
    • Barking dogs

    Neighbourhood noise
    Excessive noise from neighbours can be frustrating and can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and worry. In many cases, the person making the noise is unaware that they are causing a problem and therefore the problem can be sorted out quite quickly.

    Where this approach fails we can serve a notice on the offending party requiring them to abate the nuisance. If such a notice is not complied with then legal action can follow.

    Commercial noise
    Noise from commercial premises is often dealt with in the same way as that from a domestic premises. However, in some cases we may not need to prove a statutory nuisance where the premises holds a public entertainment licence.

    These licences are issued in order to ensure that the disturbance caused to the general public is kept to a minimum. Action can be taken against a premises that operates outside of its licensing agreement.

    Construction sites are a very common source of noise pollution. They are often in areas which were quiet beforehand and therefore the noise generated from their activities are very noticeable. Construction noise is an anticipated part of a development and therefore a restriction on working hours is often prescribed as part of the planning permission.

    Aircraft noise
    Aircraft noise is excluded from Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which means that we have no direct responsibility in relation to noise from aircraft departing or landing.

    Night time service
    We operate a night time service for the investigation of noise. The hours of operation are:

    • Sunday to Thursday, 8pm - 2am
    • Friday and Saturday, 7.30pm - 4am

    To contact this service please telephone 020 8215 3024.

     
  • Some industrial techniques have the potential to cause pollution. Since 1990 many of these processes have required an 'authorisation' from the Environment Agency to operate and they are also inspected regularly. Some processes have the potential to cause only air pollution and for these operations the local authority is responsible for their inspection and regulation.

    Authorised or 'Prescribed' processes are those industrial technologies that have a potential to cause pollution. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 requires that processes identified in the act, or by regulations made under the act, must have an Authorisation to operate.

    This scheme of authorisation is gradually being replaced by Permits issued under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 and the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000.

    The new regime was introduced in response to the European Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention Control. This schedules a wide range of industries for control and they are classified as A1 or A2 processes. A1 processes are controlled by the Environment Agency and A2 by the local authority. There are currently no A2 processes in Barking and Dagenham.

    Industries which have the potential to cause local nuisance are control by the council and called Part B processes. Part B only controls processes that have the potential to cause air pollution and include activities such as vehicle re-spraying, furniture manufacture and unloading of petrol.

    Any person operating a process that requires an authorisation or permit must submit an application, with a fee, to the local authority.

    The authority must then issue an authorisation in accordance with government guidance. The operator of the prescribed process must comply with the conditions of the authorisation and they will be subject to inspection to ensure this is the case.

    Guidance is currently being issued by the government to help both local authorities and industry move to the new system.

    PPC January 2014

     
  • Part 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requires us to take reasonable steps to investigate and, if appropriate, to take formal action if there's justified complaints of statutory nuisance.

    A Statutory Nuisance in this context can include emissions of smoke, fumes or gases, dust, steam and smell. The emissions must arise from premises and must materially affect the use of enjoyment or other premises.

    Typical of complaints of this type are smoke and ash from garden bonfires, smoking chimneys, dust from building and demolition activity and cooking smells from restaurants. The legislation does not allow us to deal with complaints of smells arising from domestic premises.

    If satisfied that a complaint of statutory nuisance is justified, an Abatement Notice will be served upon the person responsible, occupier or owner of the premises (as appropriate) requiring that the nuisance be abated. Failure to comply with an Abatement/Penalty Notice is an offence and legal proceedings may result.

    If found guilty of an offence of this type then the maximum fine is £5,000 on domestic premises and £20,000 on commercial premises.

     
  • What areas of water quality do Environmental Health Officers look at?

    Private water supplies
    For those who extract their private water supply from boreholes.

    There is only 1 private water supply source within Barking and Dagenham and this is used for industrial purposes. The supply is regularly sampled to ensure that it complies with the appropriate standards.

    The legislation we use is made under the Water Industry Act 1991 and is called the Private Water Supplies Regulations 1991.

    This tells us what the standards of the water should be and how often we have to test the water depending upon its use.

    Bathing waters
    To include swimming pools at leisure centres, whirlpool tubs, hydrotherapy pools.

    Operators of swimming and other leisure pools have a responsibility to ensure that their waters are safe. This is done as part of the regular maintenance regimes and should be at least daily.

    Mains water
    To include Manufacturers of foods and drinks as well as occasionally looking at domestic supply.

    Water is regularly tested by the water company and submitted to the Drinking Water Inspectorate and the council. If you think that you have problems with your drinking water supply, contact Essex and Suffolk Water on 0845 782 0999.

    In addition, the Drinking Water Inspectorate who are the national body for ensuring the quality of water, provide an annual publication titled 'How Good is Your Drinking Water'.

     

Pollution Control

Business Support Team

Roycraft House

15 Linton Road

Barking

IG11 8HE

 

Phone: 020 8215 3000

Email: 3000direct@lbbd.gov.uk