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Asbestos containing materials

So far in this series of blog posts about asbestos, we’ve looked at:

In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at asbestos containing materials, particularly those likely to be found in the workplace. We’ll discuss the locations in buildings where ACMs are most likely to be found, recap the importance of friability, and look at the different types of asbestos containing materials (ACMs).

Where is asbestos found?

These are some of the most common places that asbestos is found in buildings.

  • Boilers and flues
  • Ceilings
  • Vertical columns
  • Service risers
  • Lifts & stairwells
  • Flooring
  • Partition walls
  • Exterior walls & roofs

The HSE have an excellent interactive identifying common places within a building where asbestos can be found. Remember that asbestos can be present within any building constructed or refurbished before 2000.

Friability – a recap

It’s not the most common term but friability is essential to understanding why asbestos can be so dangerous. The more friable the asbestos containing material is, the more easily it crumbles, flakes and breaks up. This then releases the fibres into the air where they can be breathed in and enter the lungs.

Below is a list of ACMs in order of friability, starting with the most friable:

  • Loose Asbestos
  • Sprayed coatings
  • Pipe and boiler lagging
  • Mill board and paper products
  • Asbestos Insulation Board (AIB)
  • Textiles
  • Gaskets
  • Brake pads
  • Asbestos Cement (AC)
  • Textured coatings
  • Floor Tiles

Remember that asbestos is harmful if breathed in. Therefore, the risk is that your work will disturb the ACM and release asbestos fibres into the air. So the more friable the ACM and the more vigorous the work method, the more likely it is that fibres will be released.

Some materials such as lagging and sprayed coatings may even release fibres when work is merely done near them, especially if power tools are used.


For a more complete (though not exhaustive) list of asbestos containing materials, take a look at the HSE’s list of products that might contain asbestos.