How Can You Identify Asbestos?

Asbestos can be hard to identify as it can be used in many different materials, therefore taking different forms. Asbestos can be found in a number of places within the building (particularly those built pre-2000), but is commonly in fireproofing or insulation materials. There are some visual examples on the Health & Safety Executive:

  • asbestos cement products (pipes, flues, roofs etc)
  • lagging (on pipes and boilers etc)
  • water tanks and toilet cisterns
  • asbestos insulating board (AIB – which closely resembles typical plasterboard)
  • loose asbestos in ceiling and wall cavities
  • sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls and beams / columns
  • textured decorative coatings (commonly referred to as Artex)
  • floor tiles
  • textiles and composites

Different Types Of Commonly Found Asbestos

There are six different types of commonly found asbestos, each with their own characteristics and danger levels:

  • Chrysotile – The most commonly used and can be found in the floors, walls and roofs of older building.
  • Crocidolite – This has the finest fibres, therefore is the easiest to inhale and also the deadliest.
  • Actinolite – With a harsh texture, this asbestos type is often used in construction concrete materials.
  • Tremolite – This asbestos is flexible and strong so is often woven into cloth
  • Anthophylite – This is the rarest form of asbestos, and wasn’t widely used in commercial properties.
  • Amosite – This type of asbestos is often found in insulation boards as it’s great for heat resistance.

If you believe that asbestos is present on your site then proceed with caution to take a sample to be tested at a laboratory. Do not work with asbestos without PPE clothing and respiratory masks, as this could have traumatic effects on your health and even result in death: your safety is paramount.

For more information on asbestos awareness and safety, enrol on one of our online asbestos awareness courses: