How Can You Visually Identify Asbestos?


Quick Answer

To identify asbestos used as a concrete additive, look for the use of masonry screws and cracking, and identify asbestos used in insulation by looking for a cloth-like fibrous material that may appear frayed, woven and spongy with age. As numerous materials and generic products may contain asbestos, the substance is difficult to identify without the use of a microscope.

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Full Answer

Often added to concrete in public buildings to produce fire-resistant masonry, asbestos may make the concrete inflexible, causing cracks around the masonry screws due to temperature changes. Piping and ducting insulation may also contain asbestos. If you suspect that your home contains asbestos products, hire a professional asbestos inspector to confirm the finding as taking a sample yourself can be hazardous.

Under a microscope, many interlocking microfibers are visible, and the substance may exhibit a telltale striping pattern after being treated with stain. To identify asbestos by counting fibers, the lab worker must use a microscope that meets health and safety laboratory specifications. Asbestos in the workplace is more common than asbestos in the home, especially in manufacturing industries. All individuals should vacate the area once asbestos has been identified, as the substance can be deadly if inhaled. They should then speak with the supervisor about safety procedures

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