What Is Asbestos Found In: Where Does Asbestos Come From?

August 1, 2022

Sebastian Tiller

There are two questions that a lot of people ask when it comes to asbestos; what is asbestos found in, and where does asbestos come from? They’re certainly important questions, as knowing the answers makes it easier to manage asbestos in the workplace.

Where does asbestos come from?

Asbestos comes from nature. It’s a naturally occurring mineral made of heat resistant flexible fibres. That heat resistance made it a substance that was heavily sought after for construction, being used in Australian buildings for approximately half a century. In fact, Australia had the highest use of asbestos per capita, that’s how popular asbestos was. If you are working in a building that was constructed before 1990, it’s a safe assumption that it was built with asbestos.

However, the problem with asbestos is that it’s actually dangerous when its fibres are inhaled. 

When workers handle asbestos-containing materials in an unsafe manner, fibres can be released into the air. When inhaled, these fibres become trapped deep in the lungs, which causes extensive damage to the airways. That’s why it was phased out of construction. Regulations have been made and measures have been taken since to ensure that it is identified and removed safely in all workplaces.

Where is asbestos found in?

Asbestos is found in many locations in buildings that were constructed prior to 1990. Because asbestos was used so heavily in construction, there are various out of the way locations inside a building that have the potential to still contain harmful asbestos deposits. Some of the areas in the workplace where you may potentially find hazardous material that needs testing are:

  • The external area of the building
    • Exterior wall
    • Electricity metre and fuse box
    • Moulded ventilation
    • Window and door mouldings, window rope and putty
    • Telecommunications pit
    • Vehicle brake linings
    • Wall cladding
  • Plant/Boiler Room
    • Fire door (with an asbestos core)
    • Flues
    • Gaskets
    • Lagging around pipes
    • Plant and other machinery containing asbestos gaskets and/or seals
    • Switchboard
  • Kitchen
    • Walls
    • Ceilings
    • Splashbacks
    • Backing of vinyl floor tiles
    • Hot water insulation set into walls
    • Underlay sheeting for ceramic tiles
    • Cement sheet ceilings
  • Roof
    • Roof surface
    • Downpipes
    • Eaves
    • Flue exhausts
    • Guttering
    • Lining under eaves
    • Loose roof insulation
    • Rainwater heads
    • Ridge tiles
    • Roof sheeting
    • Roof ventilators
  • Bathroom
    • Walls
    • Toilet
    • Ceiling
    • Floors
    • Backing to wall tiles
    • Hot water insulation set into walls
    • Sheet walls
    • Shower lining

Now that I know where asbestos comes from, what’s the best way to manage it?

Octfolio is a simple yet comprehensive asbestos software solution that lets you control the management of your asbestos assets. It contains every function that you need in order to successfully handle all aspects of asbestos management services, including;

Get started with Octfolio by booking a meeting or starting a free trial.

Asbestos FAQs

Is it possible to see asbestos with the naked eye?

All forms of asbestos are invisible to the naked eye, as they can be 50 to 200 times thinner than a human hair and mix with a variety of different materials. Because of this, asbestos can only be identified through the use of specialised testing equipment. 

In order to confirm whether or not a material contains asbestos, you need to submit a sample of said material to a laboratory approved by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) in Australia or International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) in New Zealand for testing services.

How do I find asbestos if I can’t see it?

The golden rule is if you think there’s asbestos, treat it like there is

If you suspect there may be asbestos in a section of your building, get that area assessed. If you are going to conduct repairs or renovations that could potentially displace asbestos containing materials, contact a licensed asbestos assessor to ensure everyone's safety beforehand.

What do I do if I have asbestos in my building?

Once it has been confirmed that there is asbestos in your workplace, there are steps that you need to take in order to mitigate any danger and make the environment safe for your employees:

  1. (If you haven’t already) appoint a coordinator to oversee the management of asbestos.
  2. The coordinator must prepare a register that includes all identified areas, both accessible and inaccessible.
  3. Work with your coordinator to eliminate, enclose or seal identified asbestos.
  4. Implement a system that informs those that attend the workplace (such as employees and contractors) where asbestos is located and may be disturbed.
  5. Label asbestos containing assets wherever practical.
    • Brief employees on the labelling so they are aware
  6. Keep the asbestos register up-to-date, update it when changes are made (including removal, enclosure, sealing), and ensure that the register is revised at least every five years.

This will ensure the asbestos compliance of your workplace, as the presence of asbestos does not threaten the safety of your employees.

What is the best way to remove asbestos from my building?

Of course, only qualified professionals should remove asbestos from your workplace – either a hired asbestos coordinator, or a third party asbestos removal surface. In the event that asbestos needs to be removed from a building site, the following rules should be observed:

  • Use wet, non-destructive methods. Saturation and water injection may be needed during friable asbestos removal. 
  • Dry removal should only be used when wet spray methods are not suitable (e.g. near electrical equipment). 
  • Negative air enclosures, glove bag methods or continuous misting sprays may also be needed.

What types of asbestos can I find in my building?

Asbestos comes in many different types, making it even more difficult to identify. There are:

  • Chrysotile (White Asbestos)
  • Amosite (Brown Asbestos)
  • Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos)
  • Anthophyllite
  • Tremolite and Actinolite

These types of asbestos fit into two material groups, which inform the best method to approach isolation and containment for materials that are suspected to contain asbestos:

  • Bonded (Non-Friable) - Less likely to break and become airborne
  • Loosely Bound (Friable) - More likely to break and become dangerous

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Sebastian Tiller

Seb has a long history of delivering elegant solutions to complex business problems that conform to the most exacting compliance standards. He prides himself on his ability to connect with customers and humanise software solutions to be understandable and useful to all parties. He’s also enjoys playing story-based single player games and spending time with his young family, building LEGO, attending recitals, and experiencing new restaurants with his wife.

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