What is the difference between friable and non-friable asbestos?

friable and non-friable asbestos

Asbestos containing materials are categorised into two separate groups, friable and non-friable asbestos. Friable asbestos is when the material is dry and can be easily crushed to a powder like consistency by a gentle force such as hand pressure.

Friable asbestos products are generally highly concentrated with loosely bound asbestos which release small fibres into the air with minimal disturbance. This means that the presence of friable asbestos can be potentially harmful.
Friable asbestos was once used for the insulation of products such hot water piping work, boilers and ovens and is still commonly found in water pipes in ceilings, walls or below floors. Whilst not widely recognised, asbestos backed vinyl often contains friable asbestos and may hold anywhere from 50-90% asbestos.

Non-friable asbestos contains a smaller percentage of asbestos fibres which are firmly compounded within a solid material such as cement. If left undisturbed and in good condition, it is likely that non-friable asbestos containing materials will produce minimal amounts of asbestos fibres in the air, therefore posing a lower health risk.

Some of the most common non-friable asbestos products include; fibre cement products such as roof sheeting, fence sheeting, wall cladding, eaves lining as well as internal wall linings to wet areas in the home (bathroom, toilet, laundry and kitchen). It is also common to find non-friable asbestos in vinyl tiles, thick sheet flooring and floor tile underlay.

Over time, it is possible for non-friable materials to become friable, therefore it is important to seek professional advice on how to manage asbestos containing materials in your home or business.

We strongly recommend that the removal of asbestos containing materials is conducted by a professional and experienced company who specialise in the removal of asbestos. Regardless of whether friable or non-friable asbestos is present in your property, the team at MPA Asbestos Services are here to help and assist you through the safe removal of the potentially harmful product.