Asbestos In Buildings: How to Recognize?

Asbestos In Buildings: How to Recognize?

Different regions of Europe used asbestos in different ways. This material is more typical for the countries of Western Europe, and the most popular material with this mineral is asbestos cement widely used for building. It’s a common knowledge that anyone can get cancer from asbestos, being exposed to it at work or even at home. While it is prohibited in the EU since 2005, it is still present in the environment. And the main purpose is to recognize it properly and protect people from its harmful effect.

Generally anyone can recognize asbestos in buildings or other environmental objects. First of all, the materials used for the construction are always listed in building documentation. Definitely, this is not a fully reliable source of information, because lots of buildings are often renewed, rebuilt, etc. However, it will definitely be useful for examining the presence of asbestos in building.

Visual analysis also matters, as you can compare the characteristics of asbestos-containing types of cardboard, panels with the ones you have in your building. The color of such materials is usually from light-grey to grey and cannot be 100% white. Weakly-bound asbestos compounds are often crimp and soft. You should pay attention to the fractures in materials. If you see the fibrous structure in the place of cracking, this can be a sign of asbestos in the compound.

Since asbestos is recognized worldwide as a dangerous carcinogen, its use in civilized countries has been significantly reduced. In order to prevent people from the development of cancer from asbestos, as well as other health problems, a lot of asbestos cement panels and other building products were replaced by the ones that are asbestos-free. However, it is very difficult to distinguish them due to the same color – different tones of grey. Asbestos-free panels usually have green-grey tone, and the ones with asbestos have traditional light grey color. There is a special marking for asbestos-free panels – “AF” or “NT”. The latter one means “new technologies”.

Different types of cement produce different sound when working with it. For instance, asbestos cement is brittle and sounds like a real stone, while AF-cement is softer and less crumble, sounding more like wood while working with it.

These characteristics help to build presumptions, while professionals can define the presence of asbestos in any building. Certified specialists for detecting and removing asbestos from home, offices and other locations will help to get rid of the source of potential exposure. The samples of suspicious materials will be analyzed in the laboratory for precise result.

In different EU countries there is still no agreement on what concentration of asbestos can be considered as safe. This characteristic is still not defined. However, the main purpose of all the countries is to minimize the risks of various health problems related to it. In many Member States there is a rule that asbestos-containing detail of the building can stay on place until their service life runs out (in case when damages are absent – no fractures, scratches, cracks, etc.). In other Member States all asbestos-containing materials must be removed by asbestos-free analogues based on specific characteristics:

  • the general condition
  • accessibility
  • the existence of visible damage
  • ability to keep it on place safely

If the monitoring is performed by a professional team of inspectors, you will have a document stating where in the building asbestos is contained and what condition of the material is. It will be useful for future revisions.

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