Where is Asbestos Found in Buildings?

June 4, 2024

Octfolio Team

Where is Asbestos Found in Buildings? 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was once widely used in construction materials due to its heat-resistant and insulating properties. For much of the 20th century, asbestos could be found in numerous building products such as insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, roofing shingles, siding, joint compounds, and even decorative surfacing materials. 

While its usage has been severely restricted or banned in many countries since the 1970s due to health concerns, older buildings constructed prior to those regulations may still contain asbestos products in various locations throughout the structure. 

If you suspect that your building may contain asbestos, it is likely to be in the following locations:

Roofing and Siding

Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were commonly used in roofing and siding materials, such as corrugated asbestos cement sheets and shingles, primarily due to their durability and fire-resistant properties.


Asbestos was widely used for insulation purposes, including in pipe insulation, boiler insulation, HVAC duct insulation, and attic insulation, providing thermal protection and fire resistance.


Vinyl floor tiles, adhesive mastics used for flooring, and underlayment materials may contain asbestos, especially in older buildings constructed before asbestos regulations were implemented.


Popcorn ceilings or textured coatings, ceiling tiles, and acoustic ceiling panels may contain asbestos, posing a risk if disturbed during renovation or repair activities.


Asbestos can be found in wallboard joint compounds, textured paints, and insulation behind walls, potentially releasing fibres if the materials are damaged or drilled into.

Electrical Components

Older electrical panels, switches, and wiring insulation may contain asbestos, highlighting the importance of caution during electrical work in older buildings.

Piping and Ducts

Asbestos-containing materials were used in thermal insulation for pipes, ductwork, and boilers, necessitating careful handling during maintenance or renovation projects.

Fireproofing and Sprayed Coatings

Asbestos was used in fireproofing materials applied to structural steel, walls, and ceilings, as well as in sprayed coatings for fire protection, adding a layer of safety but also potential hazard if disturbed.

Caulking and Sealants

Some caulking compounds and sealants used in buildings contained asbestos, emphasizing the need for testing and appropriate handling during renovations.


Asbestos can also be found in miscellaneous items such as gaskets, packing materials, textiles, and even some household appliances like ironing board covers.

What should I do if I suspect that there is asbestos in my building?

If you suspect that there is asbestos in your building, it's important to take appropriate steps to ensure safety. With the following steps, you can ensure a safe environment for building occupants and minimise the risks associated with asbestos exposure:

  1. Do Not Disturb: Avoid disturbing any materials that you suspect may contain asbestos. Asbestos fibres are hazardous when airborne, so disturbing these materials can release fibres into the air.
  2. Consult Professionals: Contact qualified professionals, such as asbestos inspectors or consultants, who are trained to assess asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). They can conduct inspections and testing to determine if asbestos is present and assess its condition.
  3. Do Not Attempt DIY Testing: Avoid attempting to test for asbestos yourself using DIY kits. Proper asbestos testing requires specialised equipment and training to ensure accurate results.
  4. Assess Risk: Professionals can assess the risk associated with asbestos-containing materials based on factors such as their condition, location, and potential for disturbance. This assessment helps in developing a management plan.
  5. Manage and Remove: If asbestos-containing materials are in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed, they may be managed in place through strategies like encapsulation or enclosure. If removal is necessary due to damage or renovation activities, hire licensed asbestos removal contractors to safely remove and dispose of the materials.
  6. Follow Regulations: Adhere to local regulations and guidelines regarding asbestos management, testing, removal, and disposal. These regulations are in place to protect both occupants and workers from asbestos exposure.
  7. Educate Occupants: Inform building occupants about the presence of asbestos, its location, and any safety measures in place to prevent exposure. Provide training on how to recognize and report damaged asbestos-containing materials.
  8. Regular Monitoring: Regularly monitor the condition of asbestos-containing materials to ensure they remain intact and undisturbed. Conduct periodic inspections and update management plans as needed.

What kinds of buildings can contain asbestos?

Asbestos can be found in various types of buildings constructed before the regulations restricting asbestos use came into effect. These buildings include:

  • Residential Buildings: Older homes, apartments, and condominiums built before the 1980s may contain asbestos in materials such as insulation, flooring, ceilings, and roofing.
  • Commercial Buildings: Office buildings, retail stores, warehouses, and other commercial properties constructed before asbestos regulations may have asbestos-containing materials in similar areas as residential buildings.
  • Industrial Facilities: Factories, manufacturing plants, refineries, and industrial facilities built before asbestos regulations often used asbestos in insulation, piping, equipment, and fireproofing materials.
  • Educational Institutions: Schools, colleges, and universities constructed before the 1980s may have asbestos in various building materials like flooring, ceilings, walls, and insulation.
  • Healthcare Facilities: Hospitals, clinics, and medical centres built before asbestos regulations may contain asbestos in insulation, piping, ceiling tiles, and other building components.
  • Government Buildings: Government offices, courthouses, municipal buildings, and other government-owned structures constructed before asbestos regulations may have asbestos-containing materials.
  • Public Buildings: Libraries, museums, theatres, sports complexes, and other public buildings built before asbestos regulations may contain asbestos in different areas like flooring, ceilings, and insulation.
  • Historical and Heritage Buildings: Older historical and heritage buildings preserved for their architectural significance may have asbestos-containing materials, requiring special care during renovations or maintenance.
  • Military Facilities: Military bases, barracks, and facilities constructed before asbestos regulations may have asbestos in various building materials and infrastructure.
  • Other Structures: Asbestos can also be found in structures such as churches, community centres, hotels, restaurants, and residential care facilities built before the 1980s.

It's important to note that while newer buildings may not contain asbestos due to stricter regulations, any building constructed before the 1980s should be assessed for asbestos-containing materials before renovation or demolition activities.

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