What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that was a popular building material between the 1950s and 1999. It is used as an insulator (to keep in heat and keep out cold), has good fire protection properties and protects against corrosion.

Because asbestos is often mixed with another material, it’s hard to know if you’re working with it or not. But, if you work in a building built before the year 2000, it’s likely that some parts of the building will contain asbestos.

Asbestos is found in many products used in buildings, including ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers and sprayed coatings.

How to identify materials that contains asbestos?

  • Some roofing and panel materials are made of asbestos cement.
  • Houses built between 1930 and 1970 may have asbestos as insulation.
  • Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints.
  • Internal walls and ceilings may be formed from insulating board materials.
  • Older products such as stove–top pads may have some asbestos compounds.
  • Walls and floors around boiler units may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
  • Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
  • Hot water and heating systems may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape

You can’t tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labelled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos or have it sampled and analysed by a qualified professional. Only a professional asbestos surveyor should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibres are released during the sampling process. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed should be left alone.

If you are unsure if the building you own/occupy contains asbestos materials, please contact us and we can arrange for a survey to be carried out.