Asbestos is no longer being used in construction of buildings. Today asbestos has been replaced by Fibre Cement; a material with almost identical properties, but without the dangerous fibres. Asbestos can still be found in homes built or renovated before 1990, but is only dangerous if broken and or disturbed. This article centres around highlighting some factors that can make differentiating asbestos and fibre cement easier for non-professionals.
It’s the particles in asbestos that cause damage to us. You will notice Asbestos Removal professionals wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks, eye protection, and body suits. This is to prevent the ingestion of asbestos particles, that means breathed in, or swallowed.
The colour difference when comparing asbestos with modern day fibre cement is due to the age. The asbestos is old and dirty compared to the new, fresh cement. Without taking the colour into consideration, they are quite similar to look at.
Asbestos typically will have a distinct pattern on it which looks similar to the dimples on a golf ball. Fibre concrete also has a texture on it, however it is far less grooved. In a nutshell, if your material has dimples there is a very high chance that it is asbestos. However if there are no dimples, there are no guarantees that you do not have asbestos. Getting asbestos tested is the safest way to guarantee you are getting an accurate diagnosis.
Asbestos snaps easily like a biscuit, however we do not advise doing this because the asbestos particles will be disturbed. When asbestos snaps it tends to have a more clean break and there are no visible fibres. When snapping fibre concrete however, it does not break cleanly, and there are many visible fibres. The fibre concrete can also be split and broken into layers where asbestos cannot.
Properties wise, Asbestos and Fibre Cement are almost identical. They are both insoluble in water, resistant to fire, and thermally stable meaning acts like insulation. It is important to remember that asbestos is a hazardous substance so all necessary safety precautions must be taken. We have decades of experience under our belt, and highly recommend consulting a professional removalist crew when dealing with asbestos.