If you're renovating a property and you come across something you think might be asbestos, you'd do well to be cautious of dealing with it. But how can you tell if what you've found truly is asbestos or if it's simply fibreglass or plasterboard? Read on to find out more and help yourself ameliorate a few of your potential concerns.
Before you start worrying, check the date:
If your home was built in 1979 or earlier, asbestos is very likely and you should proceed with caution. If it was built between 1980 and 1989, it's less likely but still very possible, so make sure you act with great care. Homes built between 1990 and 2003 are almost certainly clear, but it's not impossible that there's some asbestos in there somewhere. If your home was built since 2003, it's highly unlikely that there's an asbestos and your builders should be immediately investigated should you find any--but the chances are minuscule.
Telling asbestos fibre from fibreglass fibres:
Asbestos was generally not used as fibre insulation, so while people sometimes warn the public to be wary of old insulating fibres it's not generally for this reason. Fibreglass fibres can have some similar effects, so seek professional advice before dealing with them yourself! Don't pull them out unless you're wearing a good mask and thick gloves, and always check first to ensure that you know what you're dealing with
Telling asbestos plasterboard from straight plasterboard:
Ordinary plasterboard crumbles evenly, and usually breaks up into chunks with clear lines at the edges not completely unlike brittle clay. If you can see fibres or the board seems fibrous in any way, there's a very good chance that the mix contained some asbestos--so make sure you deal with it as little as possible, and dampen the broken edges with water from a gentle spray bottle to make them a little safer.
What to do if you think it really is asbestos:
Don't attempt to remove it yourself, and seek professional advice before you proceed. You may be asked to take it down and wrap it up yourself before the professionals come and take it away to dispose of it for you, but that will depend on the type and amount of asbestos that there is: Don't do anything at all with it until someone who knows how to advise you has come to have a look. Contact a local firm for for more asbestos removal advice.