Asbestos is also infamously known as ‘the hidden killer’. The fibres are so small that they can’t be seen by the naked eye. It is found in older buildings, where it was commonly used in roof, walls and ceilings. Illness due to exposure takes years to manifest, but when it does it is quite risky.
A lot of people succumb to diseases caused by exposure to asbestos. It is considered to be the biggest health hazard in the field of construction.
Inhaling asbestos fibres can lead to many fatal diseases like cancer. Whenever the material is disturbed, it releases these microscopic fibres.
What does it look like?
There are three types of asbestos, chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite. They are also known by the colour of their fibres white, brown and blue respectively. You must be wondering, that now the identification would be very easy as you can identify the asbestos type by its colour. Unfortunately, it is more complex than this, because the fibres are microscopic so you cannot see them with your naked eye. The fibres are so tiny and light that they can remain suspended in the air for a long period of time.
What does it smell like?
Many harmful substances have a distinct smell, so you can immediately spot them. However, you cannot detect asbestos with its smell, because it does not have one. If you enter a building that is filled with asbestos material, you will not notice any particular smell. Even if the material is drilled to release dust, it will not feel any different from the usual dust.
How to identify asbestos?
You must be wondering is it even possible to identify a material that is not discernible by the naked eye and has no particular smell. The only way to identify the material and be sure about it is by doing an asbestos test or survey.
A survey or a test is carried out by an expert. The surveyor gathers information about the structure of the building, including the date when it was constructed. This gives them a fair idea of possible materials that could have been used in the construction. They will then do a complete survey of the building to identify where exactly asbestos can be found.
There are two types of survey, refurbishment & demolition survey and management survey. The management survey is done in non-residential buildings such as schools, offices, factories, hospitals, etc. The management survey helps in identifying asbestos presence that can be a risk during the use of the building. The refurbishment and demolition survey is more intrusive and is required before any construction-related activity is carried out. It identified all asbestos that can get disturbed during the construction.
This identification of asbestos is important so that one can employ the right asbestos removal practices. It is important that asbestos is handled by professionals who are trained in asbestos handling and asbestos disposal to ensure minimum exposure to anyone and safe disposal of the material at designated sites.