How to Identify Asbestos the Hidden Killer

The reason why Asbestos is called a “hidden killer” is that its fibers are very tiny and almost invisible to the naked eye. That’s why most people don’t even take notice of it and keep exposing their bodies to this substance for long periods of time.

Asbestos can be present in everyday building materials, such as paints, floor tiles, Artex, doors, cement products, partitions, cladding, etc. It’s very important to identify them and take the necessary measures. If overlooked, one can develop many diseases associated with Asbestos.
So how can you catch this lethal substance before it’s too late? Read on to find out.

Can we identify Asbestos through naked eyes?

No, it can’t be seen with naked eyes. You’ll have to get a microscope or some other kind of scientific equipment to get a view of this mineral. Though you can get a general idea of where it might be found.

In the US, many of the homes and public structures such as schools, government housing, and other places built before the 1980s contained Asbestos. The common places where it is found are floor tiles, adhesives, Artex, insulation, doors, partitions, cladding, and others.

Can we smell it?

Although many hazardous substances and chemicals produce an explicit smell or order, it isn’t the case with Asbestos. It’s an odorless substance that even if present in macroscale quantities, won’t produce any scent whatsoever.

If someone drills into the Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), which is strictly not recommended, it will release lethal fibers that will look and smell just like any other dust.

How to tell if a material has Asbestos

Now that you have identified the places where asbestos is likely to be found, there are a few ways you can check if the materials used in the construction of a building or house contains asbestos.

  • Access the paperwork & check the credentials

Yes, it is a long shot, but if you have the paperwork then check the manufacturer and product name on the labels and do a little research on whether the company had used asbestos sometime in the past. Sometimes, companies use AC or NT on labels too. Here AC means ‘contains asbestos’ and NT means ‘doesn’t contain asbestos’.

  • Get the materials tested

This is the most foolproof method. You can get the material tested and find out for sure whether it contains asbestos or not. For this, A sample of the material in question would need to be provided.

While homeowners can collect samples and get them tested, it is wise to leave the job to professionals. Just search “Asbestos inspection” on Google and depending upon your area you may find some expert who could complete the job for you. Make sure the expert is licensed, as several professionals have been accredited by your state

There are two testing methods; Polarized Light Microscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy, where the latter is more expensive than the former. There’s an option of taking a sample by yourself and sending it to a lab. While the whole process may cost less, you may be exposed to asbestos. We suggest outsourcing the whole job to experts. Though the whole process may cost $300-$600, the peace of mind you achieve after getting the job completed would be worth the price.

Why is it Dangerous?

If the fine particles of Asbestos reach our lungs, it will cause irritation and impair breathing function. Our nasal hair and mucus do trap particles, but if they are small and fibrous enough, they may reach to lungs and get settled there. This is where it becomes important to discuss Asbestos.

Its fibers are so small that they settle in our body and long-term exposure to the same can cause Asbestosis, lung cancer, and other severe health conditions.


After identifying asbestos, it is best to engage with a professional such as SanDow Construction for its abatement. It’s important to know that you may incur legal liability too if someone is exposed to asbestos when the material is improperly disposed of.

Professionals are better equipped to handle the bio-hazardous asbestos materials and can properly dispose of the same. So it’s always better to take help from them instead of taking the risk on yourself.