I live in a 1970s apartment block in Melbourne, Australia. It’s been fully renovated since then (I’d say around 15-20 years ago), but I know not all asbestos products were removed - we still have old asbestos fire doors, for example. I found this plaster peeling away around one of the downlights, and the hairy fibers in it scared me. What do you think the chances are that it is asbestos?!

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  • 3
    You can get a test kit,to check. hard to tell from pic.
    – user101687
    Jun 14, 2019 at 0:44
  • 2
    It doesn’t look like plaster to me (looks like drywall), but you need a test to verify asbestos in any case. Pictures cannot tell anyone if it is or is not asbestos Jun 14, 2019 at 1:09
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    Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Two things: a) it doesn't look like asbestos to me, but b) there's no way I'd take my word for it. Get a test kit. Jun 14, 2019 at 1:10

2 Answers 2


As mentioned in the comments, a test is the only way to be absolutely sure. This site has some good information (though it is US-focused):


This looks to be perhaps the most relevant to answering your question:

Usually asbestos was only added to walls that were fire rated, such as elevator shaft walls and the walls in commercial buildings. Most houses don’t have asbestos plaster in them. To ensure everyone’s safety, if you know a wall is fire rated and was built before 1990, you should assume that it contains asbestos and get a sample of the plaster tested immediately.

But, note it starts with "usually". The site also has a list of known products that contained asbestos, if you have construction history from the landlord.

Also of particular note:

Asbestos plaster is most dangerous when it is damaged. Damaged asbestos plaster is known as “friable asbestos”, which means the material can easily break and crumble, releasing asbestos fibers into the atmosphere.


I've looked at many houses in melbourne. This looks like a cheap fibreboard product (dont know official name). If so it will be about 3-5 mm thick, and will warp when it gets wet. The asbestos I have seen of that era is tiles, pipes and cement sheeting. The asbestos cement sheeting will be heavier, greyer, and stiffer than this with white/grey fibres. The visible fibres are brown in colour - a brief application of a small flame to the protruding hairs would show their identity as asbestos wont burn. dont burn the house down...

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