What is asbestos and where can I find it?

The word asbestos actually comes from the Greek word meaning “inextinguishable” or “indestructible” and it was just that so this is why it was used in many buildings across the world simply because of its Strength, heat/sound Insulation, Fire protection, resistant to chemicals, water and electricity.

Unfortunately exposure to Asbestos primarily caused through inhalation of unsealed tiny fibres that can linger in the air for a considerable time can lead to diseases such as Asbestosis, Lung Cancer or Mesothelioma.

Types of asbestos

Most of us would have heard of the asbestos colour rating system of white, brown and blue but did you know there are actually 6 different types of asbestos?


White asbestos and the most common type found in homes

  • Textured coating Artex
  • Garage/shed corrugated sheeting
  • Ceiling/wall panels
  • Thermoplastic floor tiles
  • Guttering / down pipes
  • Soffits
  • Water tanks


Brown asbestos used for Thermal insulation

  • Pipe insulation
  • Ceiling /wall panels
  • Ceiling tiles


Blue asbestos used as a spray insulation coating

  • Steam engine insulation
  • Boiler insulation
  • Protection of building steel work

Tremolite, Actinolite and Anthophylite asbestos fibres are much less common and were used in limited quantities mainly for vermiculite or talc

The use of most types of asbestos was banned in the 1980’s, although one form (Chrysotile) was still widely used in construction in the UK until 1999.

Although it continues to be the single biggest cause of work related deaths in the UK (HSE current statistics 2019 show over 5000 deaths a year with no sign of declining) having said this asbestos is relatively harmless if it remains in an undamaged and undisturbed state.

It’s important to know the nature and extent of any hidden asbestos containing materials (ACMs) prior carrying out any intrusive works to a property. If asbestos is present, it’s our job to advise you to make an informed decision whether to remove it or manage it.

Typical Asbestos locations in the home

Image showing location of asbestos in the home

1. Water Tank: Asbestos cement and is often found in older properties (pre 1980)

2. Pipe Lagging: Used to keep heat in or cold out. Often painted over, or protected by outer coating so not obviously asbestos

3. Property Insulation: Loose asbestos can be found as insulation in wall and floor cavities and in lofts

4. Textured Coating (eg artex): Can be found throughout a property on ceilings and walls

5. Soffit Board (roof overhang): Sits behind fascia at eaves level. Boards can be made from asbestos cement or asbestos insulating boards

6. Toilet Cistern: Toilet cisterns can contain asbestos-reinforced resin composite materials

7. Wall Panelling: External wall cladding and as internal wall panelling particularly around windows

8. Fuse Box: Each Fuse wire has an individual asbestos flash guard. Panel behind fuse box can be asbestos

9. Heater Cupboard: Around domestic boiler often contains asbestos insulating board

10. Floor Tiles: Plastic floor tiles, often different colours and mainly hidden under carpets and ceramic tiles. (Vinyl Floor Tiles: The tile backing may also contain asbestos paper)

11. Rainwater Items: Roof gutters and down pipes can often be made of asbestos cement

12. Asbestos ceilings /corrugated sheets

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