Did you know that there are a number of different types of asbestos and that your period home may still contain one of each? This product was used extensively during the post-war building boom and up until the modern era in some cases. And contrary to popular belief, it's not something that was only found within ceiling treatments or floor tiles. If you want to roll your sleeves up and get on with renovations in your new place, why do you need to pause for a second and consider the risks?
In fact, there are six different types of asbestos and each one comes with a difficult to pronounce name. You have chrysotile, tremolite, anthophyllite, amosite, crocidolite and actinolite, although the more popular were referred to simply as brown, white or blue.
Chrysotile (the white version) was by far the most widely used and may well be present in the attic or in roofing materials on your home. However, if you look behind insulation boards or around water pipes then you may see some brown asbestos, which was used because it has greater insulation properties.
If you can see that a product was originally sprayed onto a surface in your home, then the contractor may have been looking for an easy-to-use solution with tiny fibres and this is how blue asbestos came into the picture.
To the untrained eye, it is very difficult to determine whether you are dealing with asbestos or not. Even the replacement products are difficult to pinpoint, as once asbestos was finally banned, the new solutions were almost identical in appearance. While manufacturers were supposed to identify new materials as asbestos-free, this did not always happen and so you have to treat everything as suspicious before you proceed.
Leaving it Alone
Asbestos is not dangerous if it is left in its static state. However, if you disturb the surface by cutting through into the layer below, this can release microscopic particles. If you're unfortunate enough to inhale these fibres, they can attach to your lungs and this can lead to chronic illness and disease in later life.
How to Proceed
In the absence of evidence to the contrary, always assume that a building material in your home contains asbestos. If you want to begin any renovation, then you need to get somebody in to test each area and, if necessary, to clean perform asbestos removal. You cannot afford to be blasé about the risk under any circumstances.