How to Identify Asbestos in Your Home or Business

Asbestos is a big concern for anyone who owns or inhabits a building which was constructed in the late 1980s. The use of brown or blue asbestos was halted in the mid-1980s, while all manufacture or use of white asbestos ceased in December 2003.

But while these bans were put in place, building materials might have been stored, reused or otherwise included into construction after this time, and as a result, there may still be instances where asbestos is found in buildings which were constructed after the late 1980s.

It’s vital that you know how to identify asbestos because it can be highly dangerous to humans if the microscopic fibres are inhaled.

Asbestos wall

We are all by now aware of the health risks of asbestos, and we have created this guide in the hopes that it helps you identify the potentially harmful material. At Abbey Thermalboards, we can clad right over the top of asbestos material with absolutely no risk to you or the occupants of your building.

 

Look at the Materials Used to Make Your Building

When you’re identifying the main construction materials used to make your building, you will be able to spot some key giveaways as far as asbestos goes. Is your home/building made from timber? Or is it brick, steel, cement sheeting or something else entirely?

If you’ve got cement sheeting, there is a chance that you might have asbestos fibres which are bonded to the cement particles. If your roof is made from corrugated cement sheets, then there’s a chance you’ve got some asbestos-containing material in your home.

Here is an approximate guide to the dates that product manufacturers stopped making their products with asbestos fibre – but be aware that these manufacturers phased out the cessation, so these dates are to be taken as a guide only. Some products made around these dates will have around 3-5% asbestos.

  • Coverline 1985
  • Drain Pipe 1984
  • Hardiflex 1981
  • Hardiplank 1981
  • Harditherm 1984
  • Pressure Pipe 1987
  • Roofing Accessories 1985
  • Shadowline 1985
  • Super Six 1985
  • Versilux 1982
  • Villaboard 1981

 
Asbestos sheeting is very hardy and is also waterproof, so it’s often the case that bathrooms, toilets and laundries are all built with asbestos. You may also have asbestos vinyl tiles, and if you have pipes in the building, they might have asbestos in them too.
 

Look at Your Fasteners and Joiners

Many of the asbestos fibro sheets will have a 40mm x 6mm or 75mm x 8mm batten which is used to cover up the sheeting joins. Nails used for asbestos don’t have a tip on them, so if you spot any nails like this, you can be pretty sure you’re working with asbestos.

Anywhere with aluminium joiners in place will probably signal asbestos fibro materials. Be careful if you have a building from the early 1980s as these can have asbestos fibro even if the joiners are plastic.

As we mentioned before, asbestos is hardy and used in bathrooms, and if you have Tilux in your bathroom, this contains asbestos. It will have aluminium H-section joiners.
 

Do a Walkthrough

Now that you have looked at the materials used to make your home, you now need to do a thorough inspection. Take a look at all of the structures in your home – including rooms, spaces, ceilings, cellars, shafts, storage areas and wall cavities.

A key tip here is ALWAYS to ASSUME that material contains asbestos, or get it tested when:

  • It can’t be tested
  • It can’t be accessed, and likely contains asbestos
  • You can’t be sure

Make sure you’re taking lots of pictures and recording locations because you can use your notes to compile a list of all the locations.
 

Get a Qualified Person to Identify Your Asbestos

When you have someone in to inspect your home for asbestos, you need to make sure that they are competent and qualified to do so. They need to have:

  • Training and knowledge when it comes to determining risk and identifying suspected asbestos
  • Familiarity with building and construction practices to determine where the asbestos is going to be
  • The ability to determine if asbestos is friable or non-friable. Friable asbestos contains more than 1% asbestos by weight or area

If you need to have samples taken to identify the asbestos in your home, you need to ensure that the samples taken represent the range of materials in your building and account for potential variations in textures, colour and materials. You’ll also need to make sure that you take enough samples for proper, thorough analysis.
 

How to Get Samples Taken

Once you’re ready to get building materials tested, you need to get an approved analyst to take the samples. Before you take the sample to the lab, you must ensure that the lab is qualified to perform the asbestos analysis.

The National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) are the people who will eventually test the asbestos for you, but there are numerous companies all over Brisbane who can help you to get the samples together.

Don’t forget, always exercise caution when it comes to identifying asbestos, and if you have asbestos in your home and want to clad over it, we can do this for you!

To find out more about how we can help you, just get in touch on 1800 621 113.