It’s often easy to associate a strong, or “off” smell, as being a good warning sign to suggest that something is dangerous. As with the majority of dangerous things that we experience in our lifetime, most will likely either naturally have a bad smell, or will have a compound added to it so that we can detect it (certain gases).
Asbestos does not have an associated smell. However, if it did, trying to sniff or smell exposed or damaged asbestos would be an incredibly terrible, and possibly fatal, idea.
Asbestos containing materials, also known as ACMs, will look (if not damaged) and “smell” similar, if not the same, as their non-asbestos counterparts; due to the matrix of the materials, the fibres will be secured inside. The best and safest way to determine whether an item contains asbestos or not is by having a professional asbestos survey conducted. If you feel confident to take a sample yourself, it’s possible to have asbestos testing completed by post.