Where is asbestos found?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, which was mined and widely used as a composite in a broad range of building materials. It was used was due to its high strength, resistance to heat and chemicals, its ability to be woven into textiles and its low cost, making it superb for fireproofing and insulation. Due to these properties, it was used extensively during large scale house construction from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s, with total prohibition of the material being enforced in only 1999. It was also used, particularly for the lagging of pipes to retain heat and in the form of asbestos cement, prior to 1950.
Any building built before 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc) may contain asbestos. Due to the diversity in its application, the risk of various asbestos-containing materials differ immensely. For example, some floor tiles which contain a trace of white asbestos are very low risk, as they are present in a stable plastic make-up which limits the risk of fibre release. However, spray coating made from almost pure blue asbestos is prone to expelling huge numbers of asbestos fibres very easily, and is therefore very high risk.