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ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
AIR POLLUTANTS, COMMON INDOOR
ASBESTOS-FREE INSULATION MATERIALS
ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION IN buildings
ASBESTOS REMOVAL GUIDE
ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST
CEILING FINISHES INTERIOR
CEILINGS, DROP or SUSPENDED PANEL
CEILINGS & WALLS, PLASTER TYPES
CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS
EFFLORESCENCE, Salts & White / Brown Deposits
FLOOR TILE HISTORY & INGREDIENTS
FLOOR TILES ASBESTOS
FLOOR TYPES & DEFECTS
HOUSE DOCTOR, how-to be
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
INSULATION IDENTIFICATION GUIDE
METAL LATH, PLASTER & STUCCO
Museum Artifact Preservation
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
PLASTER & BEAVERBOARD & DRYWALL
PLASTER TYPE IDENTIFICATION
SAFETY HAZARDS & INSPECTIONS
STUCCO WALL METHODS & INSTALLATION
VINYL CHLORIDE HEALTH INFO
VOCs VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
WORLD TRADE CENTER 9-11 DUST PHOTOS
Asbestos product photo guide: this article provides a photo guide to and list of asbestos-containing products & materials, and links to detailed articles about individual asbestos-containing products & materials found in buildings and in a wide range of products used in both home and industry. We include photographs of a very wide range of examples of asbestos-containing products & materials found on or in or around buildings as well as other ACM products.
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PHOTO GUIDE to ASBESTOS MATERIALS - List & Photographs of Asbestos-containing Materials used in buildings, Homes, Appliances, Products, and industry
Here is our extensive list of the many forms in which asbestos was used. This list includes photographs of asbestos-containing materials and our links to more detailed articles about individual asbestos-containing products where you will find more photographs or descriptions of these materials.
These asbestos and asbestos-containing product photographs can assist in recognizing possible asbestos-containing materials, especially in old buildings, mechanical systems, or in old equipment. We include links to detailed articles about these individual asbestos-containing products.
While an expert lab test using polarized light microscopy may be needed to identify the specific type of asbestos fiber, or to identify the presence of asbestos in air or dust samples, many asbestos-containing building products not only are obvious and easy to recognize, but since there were not other look-alike products that were not asbestos, a visual identification of this material can be virtually a certainty in many cases. Also see Micro-Photographs of Dust from the World Trade Center collapse following the 9/11/01 attack. Links to U.S. government and other authoritative research and advice are included.
This document and other asbestos identification articles given here aid building buyers, owners or inspectors who need to identify asbestos materials (or probable-asbestos) in buildings by simple visual inspection. We provide photographs of asbestos containing materials and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings. Readers should also see our master list of asbestos containing products and materials found at ASBESTOS LIST of PRODUCTS. Contact Us to add items and photographs to this list of asbestos containing materials.
Asbestos was banned in all home construction uses beginning in 1990, but beware: pre-1990 products might have been used in some homes built shortly afterwards.
Low asbestos risk in some materials: One should note that some of these products contain such small amounts of asbestos, or asbestos in forms not easily converted to airborne fibers (non-friable), that the risk from the product is likely to be very small. One might elect to dispose of an old asbestos-containing toaster, but not to hire an environmental test firm or asbestos abatement company for that procedure.
Many other asbestos-containing products, both historic and among some current products, encapsulate the asbestos fibers in cementious or resinous materials which minimize the possible release of asbestos fibers into the air.
Note: most of the uses of asbestos listed here are obsolete and the products mentioned have not been manufactured for quite some time. However these products may still be encountered, particularly in older buildings and among old consumer products.
However some current materials may contain and are permitted to contain asbestos. In May 1999 Asbestos Materials Bans Clarification was issued by the U.S. EPA clarified that there are some categories of asbestos-containing products that are NOT subject to a ban.
For example, the Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, or NESHAP) rules issued in November, 1990 prohibits spray-on application of materials containing more than 1% asbestos to buildings, structures, pipes, and conduits unless the material is encapsulated with a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying and the materials are not friable after drying. [Italics inserted by -DF]. Thanks to Susan Kimball, Argus Pacific, for this clarification.
See ASBESTOS REGULATION Update for details and then see EPA Asbestos Materials Bans: Clarification 1999 - 2003 clarification for a description of what asbestos-containing materials are currently banned or not banned in the U.S.
Rosato's photo shows asbestos cement sheets that were used to line the arched ceiling in Grand Central Terminal in New York City. The asbestos sheets served as a base for painting a mural of the heavens.
Asbestos millboard (photo at left) used for stoves and heaters, in garages, as fireproof wallboard, as gaskets, as washers in electrical applications, stove mats,
safes, motion picture booths, automobile hoods. Asbestos millboard is a cementious product that was produced in sheets and used for fire barriers and in other applications.
Comparing drywall, plasterboard, and cement asbestos millboard
Above we illustrate a fragment of cement asbestos millboard that is about 1/8" thick and his hard - cementious, and at above right we take a look at the edges of two layers of drywall or plasterboard in an older home - showing that that material, principally made of gypsum, is comparatively soft, paper-faced, and easily cut with a knife.
Note that older drywall products and drywall joint compound often also contained asbestos. Also see DRYWALL, PLASTER, BEAVERBOARD
Details are at ASBESTOS FILTERS.
Asbestos paper used for a wide range of applications including in roofing products, filing cabinet liners, soldiers helmets, armored car roofs, welding applications, boiler jackets, gaskets, motor parts.
Reader Question: Did the Starr Piano company use any asbestos in any part / parts in there Star Remington Model?
Certainly where asbestos is a general concern, an inspection onsite by an expert will provide far more assurance about asbestos risks than we can provide by web discussion. That said:
Asbestos was used in some piano padding. I have not found a referral to asbestos specifically used within pianos themselves. However it wouldn't surprise me if pianos made for humid climates didn't use asbestos millboard for some component parts.
Details about the use of asbestos in pianos are found at see ASBESTOS in PIANOS
Here is a closeup photo of asbestos-containing window putty from the 1950's vintage steel casement windows shown at left. This putty was tested and confirmed to contain asbestos fibers and filler.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: reader comments on testing for asbestos
Pays to consult an expert, siding & walls to sewing thread. I cant tell the difference. Better safe than sorry. Life is far more important than dollars. - Karen 5/27/11
We agree that in particular if faced with a possibly costly asbestos remediation cleanup, the only proper way to proceed is to use qualified experts.
Question: Has asbestos been banned completely?
Has asbestos been banned? - Todd
No, Todd, there has not been a comprehensive ban on asbestos in North America.
Follow-up: reader comment:
I reviewed your "Asbestos Materials Regulations" section as well as your "Asbestos Regulation Update" as suggested.
EPA has no existing bans on most other asbestos-containing products or uses
1) Spray applied Surfacing >1% and not encapsulated,
2)wet applied and pre-formed pipe insulation, and pre-formed block insulation on boilers and hot water tanks,
3) Corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt, and new uses.
Quite so Todd, it's been interesting to monitor changes in government and other agency language about asbestos as political climate in the U.S. has changed. However you are misinterpreting the very data you cite.
For example, asbestos heating pipe insulation was widely used in and remains present in many thousands of homes in the U.S. and in many cases remains not encapsulated (items 1 and 2 in the text you quote).
Item 3 in the text you quote is also found wrapped on heating and plumbing pipes and has been found in the air plenum of some older furnaces, as well as in in specialty paper found on heating air ducts.
Question: [Reader comments]
Thanks very much for the articles and the resources re: asbestos containing materials. They have been most useful and informative. I am wondering if you can specifically address the possibility that bricks and mortar used for fireplace hearths and exterior siding, etc. in the mid-1960's contain asbestos. I contacted my local waste recycling facilities and was told that bricks and mortar are very likely to contain asbestos. Thanks in advance for your response. - Mike Canada 11/14/2011
Fantastic article, most helpful. Thank you. - Angelina 1/5/2012
Thanks Angelina and Mike - we work hard to make our information clear and accurate and without bias, but of course we are thrilled when we hear that you found it useful. We welcome questions about content or clarity.
Question: I want to work on my heating equipment - does it contain asbestos?
Thank you for your website. I would like to do the work on my furnace safely, and knowing if that material contains asbestos would be helpful. - Mark Seashock
Reply: Examples of visibly detected asbestos on heating equipment
In other cases, such as pipe lagging and plasters used on piping elbows, the material content may be more uncertain. If you are in doubt, do not disturb the material, and don't run a conventional (non-HEPA) vacuum cleaner to clean up dust and debris in the area before you have had an inspection by an expert and/or testing by a certified asbestos testing laboratory.
Our photo (above left) shows a coal-fired heating boiler converted to an oil burner, from which asbestos insulation was almost certainly removed. What about that white cementious plaster sealing the combustion chamber doors? Apparently it was added after the asbestos jacket was removed. Uncertain? Test it. Our photo, above right, shows a traditional asbestos-insulated heating boiler of similar vintage. More details are at
Question: Asbestos used in automobile under-coatings such as Mercedes?
Amazing. Thanks for the enlightenment....hard to believe we can "escape" asbestos exposure. I have recently come into contact with automobile undercoating fibers from a wire wheel cleaning.....do you know if/where I can find info about whether or not Mercedes-Benz used asbestos in their auto undercoatings, specifically on a 1972 300SEL 4.5?....Would REALLY appreciate this information. Thanks again. - Steve Lambiris 2/28/2012
Have you tried contacting Mercedes Benz? - Ray Tupper 5/9/12
Steve. Ray makes a good suggestion, but you may find that manufacturers are touchy about providing information that might scare customers or invite litigation
Question: Asbestos on or in an antique Alpha sewing machine?
Hello guys, this is a very interesting resource! I was wondering if I could ask a question? I acquired an antique alpha brand sewing machine from the 1950's/60's When I received it I was aware that the foot pedal and motor contained Asbestos and so quickly and safely replaced these parts.
However, last night Of the machines main chassis broke off and I noticed that underneath the Machines laminated/ enamel like surface there was a material which looked Like concrete with glittery speckles, is it possible that I could have been exposed to Asbestos from within this part of the machine? - Scott 5/2/12
Scott that's an interesting question, thanks. But I don't have a clear idea of just what parts you are discussing. Certainly if you are describing a cast iron chassis, asbestos would not have been included inside the cast iron. Perhaps you can send us some photographs of the machine and its broken part?
Question: how can I tell the difference between asbestos drywall and asbestos cement board?
I have a question about some recent reno work done at my family cottage. The cottage was built in the late fifties and added on to in subsequent years.
Recently, we had a new roof installed. We decided to remove an old oil heater. The roofers removed the chimney pipe. It was quite difficult to get out so they were quite rough handling it.
My question, now that I look at the hole in the ceiling has to do with asbestos drywall. The ceiling tiles are likely asbestos containing but where the pipe had been installed looked like drywall.
I have read about asbestos insulating board and asbestos containing drywall and now am very concerned that there may be asbestos dust. I have read that insulating board has a higher asbestos content than the asbestos drywall, and is therefore more dangerous (40% asbestos in the insulating board?).
Is this true? And how can we tell the difference between insulating board and drywall? I don't see any fibres sticking out at the rough edges, if that makes a difference. I am concerned as we regularly take my 1.5year old son there as well. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Your website has already helped me on many occassions! :-) - B.P. 8/29/2013
I'm not familiar with an "asbestos drywall" product, though certainly some drywall and some joint compounds contained asbestos. Drywall is principally a gypsum product, paper covered on both sides, and is comparatively soft - it can be cut with a utility knife or "drywall knife". Drywall is made in thickness from about 1/8" to 5/8".
Cement board or asbestos-cement board is a hard, cementious product, not paper coated, typically thinner (maybe 1/8 to 3/16" thick) and thus not nearly as friable as drywall or drywall compound; But if someone runs a power tool like a saw, grinder, or does a lot of pounding demolition, indeed one might make a dusty mess that could contain asbestos.
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