a guide to detecting asbestos
  • May 8, 2023
  • Effective Building
  • 0

Asbestos is a dangerous substance that can cause serious health problems when inhaled. It was widely used in building materials until the 1970s, when its use was banned due to its health risks. However, many buildings still contain asbestos, particularly those built before the 1980s. 

In this article, we will discuss how to detect asbestos and the most common areas in Sydney, Australia, where asbestos can be found.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once used extensively in the construction industry. It has excellent heat-resistant properties and was used in various building materials, including insulation, flooring, roofing, and ceiling tiles. Asbestos fibers are very thin and can easily be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

How to Detect Asbestos?

If you suspect your building may contain asbestos, it’s important to have it tested by a qualified professional. Asbestos is not visible to the naked eye, and the only way to confirm its presence is through laboratory testing.

Signs of Possible Presence of Asbestos 

1. Age of Building Materials

If your property was built before the late 1980s, there is a higher chance that asbestos was used in the construction of your property. Asbestos was commonly used in building materials until the Australian government banned its use in 2003.

2. Building Materials

Asbestos was commonly used in building materials such as insulation, roofing, and flooring. Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) may be found in cement sheets, ceiling tiles, and pipe insulation products.

3. Physical Characteristics

Asbestos fibers have specific physical characteristics that can be identified with a trained eye. Asbestos fibers are thin, needle-like, and do not break down quickly. They are also resistant to heat, electricity, and chemicals.

If you suspect your property may contain asbestos, seeking professional advice from an accredited asbestos assessor is crucial. A licensed asbestos assessor can conduct a thorough inspection of your property and take samples for testing in a laboratory.

Sample Methods to Do Asbestos Testing 

There are several ways to test for asbestos. One common method is to take a sample of the material suspected of containing asbestos and send it to a laboratory for analysis. This is called a bulk sample analysis. Another method is to take an air sample to determine if asbestos fibers are present. This is called an air sample analysis.

It’s important to note that a qualified professional should only do asbestos testing. Attempting to test for asbestos yourself can be dangerous and may result in exposure to the substance.

Most Common Areas for Asbestos to be Found 

Asbestos was widely used in building materials in Australia until the late 1980s, and it can be found in many residential, commercial, and industrial buildings in Sydney. Here are the most common areas where asbestos can be found in Sydney:

1. Insulation

Asbestos was commonly used in insulation materials, including loose-fill, batt, and pipe insulation. It can be found in the walls, ceilings, and floors of buildings.

2. Ceiling Tiles

Asbestos was often used in the manufacture of ceiling tiles. If your building has ceiling tiles installed before the 1980s, they may contain asbestos.

3. Flooring

Asbestos was used in vinyl flooring, linoleum, and floor tiles. It can be found in both residential and commercial buildings.

4. Roofing Materials

Asbestos was commonly used in roofing materials, including shingles, felt, and roofing paper. It can be found in both residential and commercial buildings.

5. Textured Paints

Asbestos was used in some textured paints and coatings, particularly those used for soundproofing. If your building has textured walls or ceilings, they may contain asbestos.

6. Pipes

Asbestos was often used to insulate pipes and boiler systems. It can be found in both residential and commercial buildings.

7. HVAC Ductwork

Asbestos was used in HVAC ductwork insulation. The ductwork may contain asbestos if your building has an older HVAC system.


Asbestos is a dangerous substance that can cause serious health problems. If you suspect your property may contain asbestos, it is important to take immediate action to protect your health and safety.

Contact Effective Building and Consultancy today to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed building inspectors. Our team of professionals can conduct a thorough inspection of your property, take samples for testing, and provide you with expert advice on how to manage or remove any asbestos-containing materials.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Contact us today at 02 9613 3353 or visit our website https://www.effectiveconsultancy.com.au/ for booking, to ensure your peace of mind and the safety of your property.

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About Elie Farah

Elie Farah is a Building Consultant with over 25 years of experience in the property industry. Elie has specialised knowledge in development acquisitions, blue-chip properties and inspections, as well as flood-affected and waterfront properties, heritage buildings, bushfire management and existing use rights.

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