Frequently asked questions
Asbestos is a mineral that is small enough to be woven into fabrics. Before people knew the dangers of asbestos it could be found in building insulation, roofing, and flooring. If you breathe in these fibres they can get stuck to your lungs and cause serious damage. There are 4 main diseases that asbestos can cause:
Mesothelioma (a type of cancer)
Asbestosis (lung tissue scarring)
Asbestos-related lung cancer
The different types of asbestos vary in how dangerous they are. There are 5 types of asbestos:
- Chrysotile is white asbestos and is the most common form. It can be found in; roofs, ceilings, walls, brake linings, insulations for pipes, and boiler seals.
- Amosite is brown asbestos and is used in cement sheets and pipe insulation.
- Crocidolite is a blue asbestos that was used to insulate steam engines and also in some spray-on coatings.
- Anthophyllite was used for insulation products and construction materials.
- Tremolite and actinolite aren't used commercially, they can be found in Chrysotile and talc.
Blue and brown asbestos was banned in 1985. White asbestos was banned in 1999.
Before the dangers were known and the use of asbestos was banned, it could be found in materials all over homes and workplaces. It could be found in, the ceiling, flooring, roofing, insulation, joint compound, and more.
Asbestos is not easily recognisable by sight as it can come in many different forms. HSE provides many examples of what it may look like and where it could be found. But if you are not sure and suspect it then it is important to get a professional to test it.