Many buildings and homes in the UK had asbestos used in their construction process before 1999 when the importation of asbestos into the country was completely banned. Before then, asbestos was used in many different forms. It is commonly found in items like insulation, roof tiles, and flooring. Although the risk of asbestosis or mesothelioma is low if the asbestos is left undisturbed and undamaged, proper detection and removal of the asbestos are required if there is any risk of exposing fibres and dust.
There are six different types of asbestos that were commonly used. These include:
Known as chrysotile, this was the most commonly used asbestos type and is often found in flooring, ceiling tiles, and roofing materials. Is it classified as part of the cluster of serpentine formed minerals and is made up of curly fibres. Due to its shape, it is easier to breathe out and less damaging to the lungs compared to other asbestos types.
Also known as crocidolite, blue asbestos was commonly found in spray-on coating and certain types of cement wallboard. It was banned in the UK in 1970 and was considered the most dangerous type of asbestos. The fibres form in needle-like prisms, leading to long-lasting damaged when inhaled.
Known as amosite, brown asbestos is found in thermal insulation, ceiling tiles, insulation boards and sheetrock. It comes from South Africa and was a popular choice of material in the UK before it was banned in 1980. Exposure to this type of asbestos involves a higher risk of cancer compared to other types, with brittle, sharp fibres that are easily inhaled.
This asbestos is either white, grey, or green and can be found in vermiculite and talc. It forms in needle-like clusters that are easy to inhale and can lead to serious damage.
This type of asbestos is formed in short, needle-prisms and was often mixed with chrysolite. It can be green, grey, white, brown, or transparent.
It is very chemically similar to tremolite and often found in the same circumstances. It can also be white, green, grey, or transparent, but is commonly darker in colour. Although it is a rarer form of asbestos, it shares the same needle-prisms as many other types.
If not handled correctly, all types of asbestos can pose a risk to your health and safety. Contact a licensed asbestos removal specialist if you suspect that any of the six types of asbestos might be present.