Many old houses throughout Ireland are known to be hot spots for the presence of asbestos containing materials and the potential danger of their condition. A variety of products used asbestos before it was banned at the turn of the century, and it can found in everything from roofing, to insulation in the walls, to floor tiles. Even minor damage can produce many airborne fibres, creating a hazard in something as simple as drilling a hole to hang up a painting. Cutting into asbestos containing materials with electrical tools and pounding nails into asbestos products with a hammer are extremely dangerous practices, and they must be avoided at all costs. If you are aware that you have asbestos in the home and are planning home improvements or maintenance you must inform builders and occupants before any work is started.
When in good condition, it is possible to contain asbestos in old houses. One way this can be done is by painting asbestos materials like insulating boards to prevent any dust from escaping. No asbestos-containing materials should ever be rubbed down before painting. Also keep in mind that the proper protection is always needed when working with hazardous materials and the appropriate training is required by regulation when fibres are exposed. If the asbestos containing materials are damaged or in poor condition, then you need to have a survey performed to decide whether to seal, enclose or remove the risk. It is not possible to accurately identify asbestos simply through visual examination. If asbestos containing materials are suspected, you must presume they contain the risk of asbestos and adopt the necessary precautions.
Alternatively to identify the type of asbestos you should arrange for the materials to be sampled by an asbestos specialist.