Is It Hard To Detect Asbestos?

Did you know that Asbestos is responsible for the deaths of 20 tradesmen a week, according to the HSE. If you’re not familiar with asbestos, it is essentially the collective name for a naturally occurring group of minerals that was widely used in the construction sector before it was banned in 1999. Asbestos fibers are long, tough and fireproof. While this makes them incredibly useful from a construction point of view, it also makes them particularly threatening to human health.

If asbestos fibers are inhaled, the human body is unable to break them down, which can lead to deadly diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Obviously, this all makes it incredibly important to spot asbestos early on, but even this can present problems.

Why is Asbestos So Hard to Detect?

In its regular form, asbestos comes in blue, brown and white varieties, and back when it was freely used in construction, it was often mixed with other materials like cement. It has no distinctive visual characteristics, so it’s difficult to conclusively determine whether a material contains asbestos from visual inspection. It’s true that the packaging of some asbestos products contain identification marks – but on the other hand, many others don’t, and unless the original packaging is close to hand it’s a moot point regardless.

As well as having no distinctive visual characteristics, it has no smell either, and there’s no immediate consequence to the act of inhaling it. Only much later do the symptoms of diseases like asbestosis start to become apparent, and by that stage it’s often too late to do anything about them.
Even the location of asbestos can be difficult to predict. It’s been used in all sorts of buildings, both private and public, and according to some experts, some construction workers had a habit of completing the final stages of jobs with whatever materials they had lying around, leading to asbestos being found in the most unlikely of places.

How to Look for Asbestos

It’s only when they become disturbed and therefore airborne that they become a threat to human health. To avoid this, whenever you’re thinking of undertaking any sort of building work on your property, including extensions, you should always have an expert check conducted for asbestos. We’d strongly advise against trying to conduct this sort of check yourself. Best case scenario, you might not realise what you’ve found even if you do stumble across it, and in the worst case you could actually inhale some of those deadly fibers.

Instead, suspected asbestos fibers should only be investigated by a trained specialist. It’s worth noting that due to the combination of factors we mentioned above, even experts can have difficulty conclusively identifying unknown materials as asbestos – a scenario which usually entails sending the material in question to a specialist lab, so it can be definitively identified.

If you suspect there is asbestos in your home, contact Iris Environmental Laboratories today! We provide asbestos inspection services to help our clients in remediating their asbestos problems. Call now at 1800-908-6679 to find out more on our asbestos inspection services or fill up our online form to be contacted by our consultants.