What Is Friable And Non-Friable Asbestos?

Asbestos was widely used in the construction trade due to its many useful properties; such as being cheap, strong, and heat-resistant. This made it a very useful and sought after product.

Unfortunately, if asbestos containing materials are damaged or disturbed, then the fibres can become airborne, resulting in breathing complications and diseases; thus the ban in the UK in 1999 for all asbestos use.

One of the key factors which makes asbestos so dangerous to health is it’s friability, which we will discuss below.

What is asbestos friability?

Friability is the likelihood for an ACM (asbestos containing materials) to crumble or break down due to abrasion or pressure. ACMs that are more likely to release asbestos fibres when damaged are known as friable. These types of materials will likely be easily crumbled just by touch.

What is friable asbestos?

Asbestos that is deemed to be friable means that it can easily be broken, and will readily release inhalable fibres into the air. Friable asbestos will contain more than 1% asbestos and will be easily broken and damaged by hand.

Some examples of friable materials:

  • Thermal insulation
  • Insulation boards
  • Pipe lagging
  • Sprayed coating

What is non-friable asbestos?

Non-friable asbestos are materials that cannot be damaged by hand, without tools, therefore cannot be easily disturbed. These materials are more resistant to abrasion and damage, thus less likely to release inhalable fibres.

Some examples of non-friable materials:

  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Cement sheets
  • Bitumen
  • Textured coating

Another name for non-friable asbestos is bonded asbestos.

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