The identification of any substance thought to be or to contain asbestos can only be checked by laboratory analysis.
There are three main types of asbestos.
Blue asbestos (crocidolite). Has good insulation properties and was often used in lagging. It is highly carcinogenic.
Brown asbestos (amosite). Good for insulation, particularly in asbestos insulation board (AIB). It is also highly carcinogenic.
White asbestos (chrysotile). The most common form of asbestos. It is commonly found in asbestos cement products. It is also a known carcinogen.
It has been estimated that asbestos was included in over 5,000 construction products from the 1940s to the 1980s. Asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were mainly used in the following.
- Sprayed coatings to ceilings, columns and beams.
- Lagging of boilers, pipework or ducting.
- Pipework and boiler gaskets.
- Suspended ceiling tiles and floor tiles.
- Partitions and ceilings.
- Soffit panels and window boards.
- Asbestos cement roofing sheets, water tanks and pipes.
- Asbestos cement board or sheets used as permanent formwork.
Asbestos is often hidden above suspended ceilings and behind walls. Workers should stay aware and assume that asbestos may still be present, even after a survey has been completed.
If you think that you have discovered or disturbed asbestos, you must make sure of the following.
- Stop work immediately.
- Warn others nearby to keep away.
- Tell your supervisor or employer.