Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that were commonly used in construction in the UK until the year 2000, after a ban in 1999. This fibrous substance poses a huge risk to health and has been found to be a leading cause of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Due to the extensive use of asbestos in construction prior to the ban, it’s important to know how to recognise and identify potential asbestos-containing materials, particularly in insulation, where it was a commonly used material.

Since asbestos is naturally fire-resistant and inexpensive, it was a common choice for various forms of insulation for many years. Your property may have asbestos present if you have any of the following types of insulation from prior to 2000:

  • Pipe insulation and wraps
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Wall or attic insulation

What Does Wall and Attic Asbestos Insulation Look Like?

Asbestos wall insulation can be found in various forms. Insulation boards that contain asbestos were often used in walls and ceilings and are commonly sandwiched in between other building materials, making it dangerous to remove. Loose-fill asbestos insulation is another form that is often found in walls and ceilings. It is typically fluffy in appearance and blue-grey to white in colour. There is a high risk of inhaling this type of asbestos insulation if it is disturbed, as it is not compressed.

What Does Asbestos Pipe Insulation Look Like?

Like other types of asbestos insulation, pipe insulation containing asbestos can appear in various forms, from wraps to spray coatings. Wraps tend to look like corrugated paper and can easily be identified, however, many pipe insulations that contain asbestos can be difficult to spot since they have been painted over or covered in another way.

What Does Asbestos Vermiculite Insulation Look Like?

Vermiculite is another loose-fill insulation type that poses a risk of exposure to asbestos. Vermiculite is similar to asbestos in that it is a naturally-occurring mineral, and although it does not present the same dangers like asbestos, a large amount of the vermiculite used before 1990 came from mines that also contained asbestos. It is often found in attics and is stone-like in appearance, ranging in colour from grey-brown to silver-gold.

If you believe that your home or commercial property could contain any form of asbestos insulation, it’s best to contact a professional who can safely identify and remove the substance. Most forms of asbestos insulation pose a very low risk to health when left undisturbed.