Many people know that asbestos is very dangerous substance and one that can be found in homes and workplaces across the UK – but it’s also clear that a large number of people aren’t sure how to identify it. One of the most common questions regarding asbestos is: what does asbestos look like?

This can be a difficult question to answer because the answer can vary enormously and, in the majority of cases, it is the wrong question to ask. To answer it effectively it should first be noted that there are actually six different types of asbestos. They are: chrysotile (white asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos), actinolite, tremolite and anthophyllite. All of the types are banned from use in the UK, but this ban only came into force in 1999, so any property that was built before then may contain asbestos.

Each of these forms of asbestos has a different appearance and a range of properties, but this is not especially relevant because in most examples, asbestos is mixed in with other materials so that it becomes virtually impossible to identify whether asbestos is present (let alone the type) without specialist equipment and training.

Asbestos can be found in a huge range of materials including cement, roof tiles, radiators and sprayed coatings. It was even found in very common home décor materials such as Artex (although not all Artex contains asbestos). Unfortunately, however, it’s not possible to check for asbestos with the naked eye. For example, cement that contains asbestos can look identical to cement that doesn’t contain it.

That means that to understand the situation regarding asbestos at your property, you’ll need to have an asbestos survey carried out.  Asbestos professionals can conduct in-depth surveys at all types of property, taking samples of suspicious materials and having them analysed in a lab. Only then will you know whether they do contain asbestos. If you do happen to have any asbestos on your property, they will be able to provide advice and guidance on how to manage or remove the asbestos and ensure that you are not put at risk.

You should never attempt to deal with asbestos yourself. Remember that even if you’re certain that something in your property is asbestos, you would be placing yourself in a dangerous situation if you attempt to remove or alter it. Only authorised professionals should deal with asbestos. It’s worth noting that asbestos is normally only dangerous if the fibres are disturbed and released into the atmosphere – something like asbestos-containing concrete that is in good condition and unlikely to be disturbs only poses a minimal risk.

That means that if you do believe you have asbestos on your premises you don’t need to panic. Instead you should simply book a survey as soon as possible.