How to recognize asbestos

asbestos on roofs

Asbestos is a highly toxic substance for humans. Depending on key factors such as the amount of asbestos particles inhaled, the duration of exposure to the material or the specific type of asbestos, it can lead to serious diseases such as asbestosis, lung or pleural cancer, etc. In this sense, it is important to identify it to avoid problems. Many people don't know how to recognize asbestos.

For this reason, we are going to dedicate this article to telling you everything you need to know to learn how to recognize asbestos and avoid its dangers.

Key features

asbestos in home

Before learning how to recognize asbestos, we must know what its characteristics are. In terms of its properties, its resistance to heat, abrasion and its flexibility make it a suitable material for use as an insulating material in the textile industry and in many other fields. The pathogenic risks of asbestos have been known for many years due to their long-term presence in lung tissue and studies have shown that it alters host mucociliary activity, macrophage activation, and inflammatory mediator release, and is associated with tobacco smoke. As for its carcinogenic potential, it has even been linked to certain viruses.

Asbestos is a mineral that has been known since ancient times. Multiple historical references attest to this. It was found in Finnish pottery dating back 4.500 years; some say it was the wick of the goddess Athena in the XNUMXth century BC. C. Made of asbestos. Given the properties of asbestos, it is widely used in various fields of life, its consumption has reached a high level in recent decades, and currently more than three thousand applications are known, but in addition to its enormous utility, it increases the risk significant cause of disease directly or indirectly, especially in the long term, due to its incubation period of more than two decades.

Asbestos properties

how to recognize asbestos at home

Asbestos are silicates of iron, sodium, magnesium and calcium with a crystalline structure arranged in very fine fibers that combine to form fibers (fibers: greater than 5 microns in length, less than 3 microns and greater than 3 microns in diameter). /diameter ).

they have a relative density of about 2,5 and a melting point above 1.000 ºC. Due to their chemical composition, they are heat-resistant minerals (they are destroyed at temperatures above 800 ºC).

They are resistant to alkalis (chrysotile) and acids (especially amosite and crocidolite), which is why the latter are used as insulators in industry. Chrysotile fibers are flexible (used in the textile industry); amphibole fibers are more brittle. They are flame retardant and insoluble, have great electrical and wear resistance, which is why they are considered indestructible.


how to recognize asbestos

When inhaled, asbestos fibers pass through the respiratory tract, while those that pass through the mucociliary system enter the alveoli, where they can be phagocytosed by macrophages, eliminated by the lymphatic vessels or have fibrotic or carcinogenic effects.

Different types of asbestos fibers have different physical and chemical properties that determine disease risk. The toxicity of asbestos fibers is related to the structure of its fibers, since ground asbestos does not cause disease.

Due to the risk of developing diseases, both the intensity and duration of exposure are important. Investigate stroke thresholds when looking for stroke thresholds, below which there is no risk. There are labor standards for shifts and concentration of fiber in the environment.

The capacity of asbestos fibers to cause pathology seems to depend on their aerodynamic diameter, length and residence time in the tissue. The larger diameter fibers are deposited in the nose, trachea and large bronchi and are eliminated by the mucociliary system. Those of smaller diameter, progressive, reach the respiratory bronchioles.

How to recognize asbestos

Technically, asbestos is made up of asbestos minerals. These items feature long fibers that are flexible enough to twist together. It is a material resistant to all types of external media, including fire. Nevertheless, a person who does not know what asbestos is in the home can easily identify its presence. Just look at the date on any corrugated iron sheet: if it's before 2021, then it's probably asbestos, as it was previously the most widely used material.

Another similar method is to check the documentation of the cap or roof. In some properties, the owner is self-delivery, however, you can always place your order. The document itself will indicate whether the piece in question contains asbestos. If you don't get the documentation, you can always look directly at the ceiling or the inscription on the ceiling. If the acronym NT ("New Technology") appears, it means that it does not contain asbestos, but rather glass fibers.

Another good way to identify asbestos is by color. The following assumptions can be distinguished:

  • White. It is the most common, usually in the form of chrysotile. It abounds in ceilings, walls and floors. As a good insulator, it is also easy to find in plumbing, plumbing, and appliances, as well as boiler gaskets and seals.
  • Brown. It is iron ore and is common in cement boards. Other places where it can appear are in pipes, insulating panels, tiles and elements specially designed for thermal insulation.
  • BLUE. It is typical of crocidolite, a common insulating element for steam engines. Other potential uses for this material can be found in plastics, cement products, pipes, and spray coatings.
  • Dull gray or green. It probably came from a stone box from Chiba. Although distributed in limited quantities, it is also used in insulation products and building materials.
  • Green, or transparent. They belong to two chemical minerals, tremolite and actinite, which are very common in asbestos construction.

Another easy way to find out if you have asbestos is to collect a small sample and send it to a lab for analysis. This is a highly reliable method because it is backed by laboratory science, although it is more dangerous because you have more exposure to the substance.

It can be inferred that the safest and least dangerous procedure is to go to a professional. Therefore, if you have the slightest suspicion of finding asbestos during the renovation of your house, do not waste a minute and contact an expert as soon as possible. When equipped with proper clothing and tools, they are the only ones capable of handling this substance.

Basically, what a professional will do is remove all structures impregnated with this material. It must be made specifically, stored in a sealed security bag, and transported to an authorized landfill.

Remember not to touch anything containing asbestos without the proper equipment, as these particles disperse easily and remain in the atmosphere for long periods of time. For the rest, we must continue to replace the removed elements with other parts made with less polluting materials, whether natural or synthetic.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about how to recognize asbestos and its characteristics.

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