A Stealthy Killer: Do You Know Where Asbestos Hides?

asbestos-39995_1280Although there is a general level of awareness regarding the dangers of exposure to asbestos, many people simply have no idea where it is likely to be found.

There are numerous potential health issues in the case of asbestos exposure and you need to ensure that you know where to find this stealthy killer.

Unknowingly exposed to asbestos

The fundamental issue relating to asbestos exposure is that the damage could have been done years ago and you may not have even known that you exposed yourself to such a deadly risk at the time.

Asbestos was used widely in many industries until the true extent of the dangers was understood, meaning that this mineral fiber that can cause cancer, may well have manifested itself within your body and started a deadly time bomb ticking.

Asbestos explained

Asbestos is actually a naturally occurring fibrous material, and it was used extensively as a building material between the 1950’s and up to the 1990’s.

The reason for its popularity was easy to understand, as it works well as an insulator and also offers good fire protection properties, as well as providing good tensile strength and resistance to chemical erosion.

Those were the good points about asbestos and explains why it was such a popular choice in the construction process.

Where to find asbestos

The big problem when it comes to identifying asbestos in a building, is that it is very often hard to know when you are working with the material.

This is because asbestos is often combined with other materials, so the most obvious clue to look for, is to establish whether the building you are in was built before 1990, when the material was banned.

If the building is older than 1990, there is a high chance that it will contain some asbestos and there are some fairly common places where you might find it present.


Asbestos is contained within spray applied fireproofing and if you have linoleum floor tiles, these could potentially contain a high concentration of asbestos. You will need to exercise extreme care and should use a specialist when removing an old linoleum floor as the paper backing has a tendency to tear easily and can easily result in high fiber levels when it is disturbed.

Other materials in or around your home that may contain asbestos include –

Resilient floor tiles – These floor tiles come in numerous sizes and a common misconception is that the size of the floor tile will confirm whether it contains asbestos. This is not the case, and you should be wary of any size of resilient floor tile.

Cement board and tiles – You will invariably find cement boards used on the exterior of your building, as a wall covering or on your roof. The can have a flat or corrugated appearance and you may also find they have been used as a heat shield inside your property, around your fireplace for example.

Textured ceiling coating – A high proportion of textured and decorative finishes on walls and ceilings in older properties, will contain asbestos.

These are just some of the examples of where you might find asbestos. In view of the health risks attached to asbestos, you should seek professional advice when attempting to disturb any building materials in your building which you suspect contains this potentially deadly fiber.


Jake Rowe works in the healthcare industry, and has done for many years. He has started to spend some time writing articles for health related blogs as a way to share his knowledge and educate more people.