How Do You Recognize Asbestos?


Asbestos is a hazardous material that was frequently used in automotive and construction industries for its ability to insulate against heat. The Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of asbestos in 1986 after it was discovered that asbestos fibers could cause lung cancer, interstitial fibrosis, and pneumoconiosis. Because of this ban, asbestos is more likely to be found in older buildings prior to 1980. If you are concerned that your building may have asbestos in it, there are a few things to look for.

Signs of Asbestos

  • Asbestos is most likely to be found in older buildings (built prior to 1980) in areas that needed to be fireproofed. The roof, pipes, and any boiler room areas are the most likely to have asbestos present to prevent fire. Asbestos coating normally has a white or gray color and is applied to the outside of pipes, or it can be in the form of a rectangular block and positioned around a boiler.

    Roof shingles can have asbestos to prevent fire from spreading across the roof. The shingles can have a fibrous appearance similar to fiberglass insulation. Asbestos ceiling tiles are similar looking but are larger than shingles and are used in acoustical ceiling. They are usually white.

    Asbestos was used in ceiling paint as well and can result in a rougher texture, especially when used on a foam "popcorn" ceiling.

    Asbestos cement is a grayish, dusty powder that was frequently used to fill in gaps in piping.

    Professional testing needs to be done to positively verify whether the material in question contains asbestos. Removal should be done by a professional company to ensure your safety and to follow federal guidelines.

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