What Does Asbestos Look Like?

July 09, 2020

For asbestos testing in Auckland, we’re often contacted by people asking us for advice on what the stuff actually looks like. It is difficult to describe its appearance, and we wouldn’t divulge that sort of information anyway. We’re not being rude. We’re doing it for safety reasons. We don’t want people getting too close to the suspect material to have a look - that sort of job is best left to skilled professionals like the licenced contractors we work with. Besides, the presence of asbestos is best determined by testing rather than by sight because it is something of a hidden and deceptive material. 

Asbestos doesn’t exactly jump out at you with a big sign telling you what it is. It does not have one distinctive look because it is not really a single thing. Instead, it is a collection of silicate minerals that occur naturally in the earth. It is made up of long, thin crystals which are full of fibres that can be released into the atmosphere and do all sorts of damage to the environment, and to your health. 

Asbestos is usually concealed in all manner of items anyway, particularly older building materials. So even if it did have easy-to-spot characteristics, and even if we told you what it looked like, it would still be impossible to find as it would be disguised by the materials it has been combined with. One of the most common combinations would be asbestos mixed with cement - good luck trying to spot the asbestos mineral in that!

That is why we strongly believe that testing is the only safe and effective way to determine whether asbestos is present. We can manage that for you; we urge you not to collect a sample yourself as that can open a can of worms. By asking us to take charge of the process, we’ll ensure the sample is collected and handled safely, and an accurate report will be sent to you in a day or two. If asbestos has been detected during the tests, we can discuss the next steps in removing it.

If you suspect you’re living or working in an area where asbestos might be present, feel free to contact us.  But please don’t ask us what it looks like. Instead, get licenced professionals around to your place and let them handle the whole thing safely, from testing to disposal.