What Does Asbestos Look Like? A Guide to Asbestos Identification

We’ve all got a fairly good idea of how dangerous asbestos can be. The utter devastation it has caused within families and across generations since its inception has been truly horrifying – lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis – the worst of the worst.

However, one of the most common misconceptions is that those days have now passed and we are no longer at risk given today’s modern building regulations and higher standards of living. Sadly, this is simply not the case. It is also not necessary for an individual to have had first-hand exposure working closely with asbestos in a processing factory or the like to end up with life-threatening conditions.     

One of the biggest failures within the the current asbestos epidemic is that those who are likely to be affected are predominantly young infants and children who remain highly susceptible due to their underdeveloped immune systems and prolonged exposure of usually living totally unawares in an asbestos-ridden home.

So how can you tell if you have asbestos in your home?

Identifying asbestos is no easy feat. It can be found in a whole range of different colours and depending on how heavily it has been processed, its current level of deterioration, or the building materials it has been processed with, asbestos can look completely different.

This is why it’s incredibly important that you don’t simply assume that you know what asbestos looks like, as such a severe oversight may lead to seriously dire consequences for both your and your family.

When should you be concerned?

It’s always pays to be cautious, and when it comes to something as nasty as asbestos, you can never be too careful. Unless you’ve built your home from the ground up and know absolutely for 100% certain that asbestos was not present in the construction of your house, then always keep in mind that it could be lurking just beneath the surface.

Times at which you should be especially mindful however, are if you are planning on buying a new home for one. Take extra care to note when the property was built, because if it was before the 1990’s, there’s your asbestos red flag. This is due to the fact that one of the main reasons asbestos was so popular was due to its cheap and durable nature – making it an incredibly popular choice to build with as it would significantly lower the cost of construction. This practice remained in effect up until the late 80’s, so it is always imperative that you keep this mind when looking at houses to purchase.

Another time you want to ensure that you stay hyper vigilant is if you plan to renovate. Knocking down walls, pulling up carpets, insulating a roof, no matter what you’ve got planned it’s essential that you know what you’re working with and whether or not you’ll need to enlist professional help.

Where will I find it?

Since identifying asbestos and is not an easy thing to do, it’s firstly going to be useful to know exactly where to look before knowing exactly what to look for. Since asbestos is so versatile, it can be found in a worryingly large number of areas both inside and outside the home.

Within the home asbestos can be found within:

  • Wall and ceiling linings
  • Cement floors
  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Kitchen splashbacks
  • Insulation in wall heaters
  • Internal wall sheeting
  • Roof cavities
  • Carpet underlay

Outside the home asbestos can be found in:

  • Electrical board meters
  • Fences
  • Sheds
  • Gutters
  • Piping
  • Hot water tank insulation
  • Dog kennels
  • External wall sheeting
  • Eaves

What does asbestos look like?

The short answer to that is… it depends. As mentioned above, the flexibility of asbestos means that it can be hidden all over and take the appearance of many different colours, shapes, and forms.

However, here are some photos of items you will commonly find constructed with asbestos so you have a rough idea what to keep your eye out for:

Why is asbestos so unsafe?

The effects of asbestos exposure can be extremely severe and result in life-threatening diseases which may ultimately result in death. So on a scale of 1-10, asbestos is way up there in terms of needing early detection. The reason that asbestos is so dangerous is due to the fact that the fibres of asbestos products lodge themselves within the organs of the body, which is why lung cancer is one of the main diseases associated with asbestos exposure.

Another similar and equally horrendous disease resulting from asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, which is only known to be caused exclusively by asbestos and is a cancer of the lining of the lungs and abdomen. Mesothelioma has no cure.

Asbestosis is caused by exposure to asbestos dust that results in a thickening and scarring of the lung tissue making breathing increasingly difficult. There is no known treatment for asbestosis.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of serious health issues caused by the direct exposure to asbestos but those listed above are just to hit home the fact that when it comes to a substance this dangerous, you can’t be too cautious, because it may cost you your life.

Are you worried there might be asbestos in your home?

If this is the case, the absolute best thing you can do is to call a professional who will be able to tell you with absolute certainty whether you do or do not. This is the first step and one of the most crucial. Having an asbestos inspection in either your current home or for property you might be considering purchasing is not only going to give you complete and utter peace of mind, it could also save your life.

Building Masters Inspections work with a team of dedicated and highly qualified professionals with many year experience. We know exactly what we’re looking for and have the utmost care for our clients and each of their specific needs. So you can rest assured that if you have an asbestos problem, we’ll find it.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, give us a call today or send us an online enquiry and we’ll get back to you ASAP because anything as important as this won’t wait.

By |2019-03-28T15:57:24+00:00March 28th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mike Heathcote
Mike Heathcote is the founder of Building Masters Inspections and a veteran builder with decades of experience. Utilising his decades of industry knowledge, Mike has set up a Building Inspection service that is catered towards providing expert opinion on the true condition of buildings and helping house buyers find their perfect home Melbourne wide.

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