Darrell MacLean on Identifying Asbestos

In the past, asbestos was known for its extremely durable and resistant fibres used to support commercial and industrial buildings.

Darrell MacLean is a construction professional & expert in asbestos removal.

Now, it is primarily known for its role in causing terminal diseases like mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer. In spite of implementing policies to eliminate the use of asbestos, there still remains some products manufactured from decades ago, still containing asbestos. It is especially common in older homes, schools and public buildings. President of Southern Middlesex Industries, Darrell MacLean, recommends those unlucky few who are in an environment with asbestos to seek professional help for removal. Removing asbestos on your own is risky and can endanger your well-being if it is not properly handled.


Asbestos can be found in a wide range of materials such as cement, insulation boards, plastics, vinyls, textured coatings, sprayed coating, pipe insulation and loose-filled insulation. Though some can be identified visually, it can only be confirmed by taking a sample and having the material examined in a laboratory. Below is a list of asbestos containing materials broken down categorically:

Darrell MacLean: Asbestos is hazardous to your health, and it is imperative that you hire a certified & trained specialist, who can identify & remove the hazard.

Asbestos Insulation Board Products

Asbestos found in these materials are extremely fibrous when disturbed and can only be removed by a contractor. This type is commonly used in commercial buildings and was previously used for heating-related services. It would oftentimes be used to cover walls and is often used in fire break and for structural steel columns.

Asbestos Cement Types

For years, asbestos materials were used to improve a products strength and durability. Products such as roofing sheets, cladding panels, roof tiles, promenade tiles, fascias and soffits, flues and drainage products and undercloaking took advantage of these features. This type of asbestos is more commonly found externally in roofing and cement materials. It is also easier to spot visually and can best be described as corrugated cement sheets.

Darrell MacLean: Flooring renovations in the past involved asbestos.

Asbestos Used in Vinyls

Flooring composites were also contained asbestos in the earlier years. Vinyl tiles and sheet-laid vinyl were often used as primers before adding a more decorative finish on the top layer of the floor. Because of the asbestos’ added strength and chemical resistant features, these tiles were often used as backing material.

Asbestos Sprayed Coatings

Materials with asbestos sprayed coatings contains as much as 85% of asbestos fibres. The coating was used to fireproof steel beams, the space in between and under the flooring and the underside of roofs. The asbestos in these coatings are highly susceptible to damage causing large quantities of its toxins to be released in the air.

Asbestos in Insulation

Asbestos material was used to insulate floors, lofts and wall cavities in domestic and commercial buildings. This appears to be blue-grey or white in color and looks similar to candy floss.


Removing asbestos is a tricky process. A lot is at stake — including the health and safety of yourself and others. In spite of its current ban, there are still a number of old buildings containing asbestos for its resistance properties. Experts like Darrell, recommend that new building occupants always inspect the building for contaminants. Any building that contains asbestos should receive immediate attention.