Asbestos was used in buildings commercially for over 100 years. The list below shows some of the most common products that were used. For a more comprehensive list, refer to HSG 264: The Survey Guide, published by the HSE.
Many of the asbestos products found in the home are well bonded. This means they present a very low risk of fibre release if left undisturbed and in good condition. Unfortunately, often the only way to be sure that a material installed before 2000 doesn’t contain asbestos is from a laboratory analysis.
Sometimes referred to by one of the trade names “Artex”, textured coating typically contains 2-5% chrysotile (white asbestos). It can frequently be found on ceilings, though may also be applied to walls. The asbestos was added as a binder so that the textured coating kept its shape whilst it was wet.
Flexible linoleum floor lay manufactured around the 1960s can be found with chrysotile paper backing. This was later replaced with hessian. Thick, hard thermoplastic floor tiles may contain up to 25% chrysotile which was added to prevent the tiles from warping during manufacture. Some softer vinyl flooring had around 7% chrysotile added for flexibility. Even if the tiles are asbestos free, chrysotile may be found in the adhesive below.
Insulating boards do what they say on the tin. They are most often found in boiler/linen cupboards because of their excellent heat-trapping properties. Other locations include soffits, box risers and bath panels. Amosite (brown asbestos) is usually in the boards, sometimes with chrysotile too. Some non-asbestos insulating boards were also manufactured at the same time, and cross-contamination has been known.
Garage and shed roofs made of corrugated cement sheets, and some pipes and roof tiles can contain up to 25% chrysotile. Some very old cements were made with amosite and crocidolite (blue asbestos) too. If a cement sheet is stamped with AT, it definitely has asbestos in it. Sheets marked with NT had man-made fibres added instead of asbestos.
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