What is asbestos?

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material which was regularly used in buildings from the 1950s until the late 1990s.

It is still found today in many buildings, including domestic and non domestic premises, schools and hospitals. If disturbed, it can be a killer.

Asbestos was widely used as an insulation and fire proofing solution. In particular, it found its way into products like ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers, sprayed coatings and garage roof tiles.

Inhaling loose asbestos fibres is known to cause several serious and even fatal diseases. So there was no surprise when it was finally banned in 1999.

The three main types of asbestos are blue, brown and white asbestos, which were used in countless building products. But as it was often mixed with other materials it can be hard to know if you’ve found it or not.

You may often come across asbestos while you are working, but as long as the asbestos is well maintained and not disturbed or disintegrating it doesn’t present an immediate risk to your health.

Different types of asbestos need to be dealt with in different ways. The most important thing you can do to avoid unnecessary risks is to arm yourself with the correct level of training before you start work.

Even small levels of exposure, if repeated day after day,  can lead to diseases later in life. So don’t start work if you’re not sure how to handle it safely.

To help you identify asbestos, take a look at our images below showing photographs of typical asbestos-containing materials that can still be found in buildings today.

Toilet Cistern & Seat

Toilet Cistern & Seat

Cement Undercloak

Cement Undercloak

Pipe Lagging

Pipe Lagging

Vinyl Floor Tiles & Adhesive

Vinyl Floor Tiles & Adhesive

Cement Water Tank

Cement Water Tank

AIB Boxing in Cupboard

AIB Boxing in Cupboard

AIB Soffits and Roofing

AIB Soffits and Roofing

AIB Ceiling Tiles

Ceiling Tiles

Asbestos Cement Roof

Asbestos Cement Roof

Cladding

Cladding

Window Panel

Window Panel

Textured coating (arc pattern) ceiling

Textured Coating Ceiling

AIB behind a Boiler

AIB behind a Boiler

Loose Fill Insulation

Loose Fill Insulation

Sprayed Coating

Sprayed Coating