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I just bought a nice 1920s table which has obviously been fixed up a bit throughout its life, and thought I’d check before touching it whether there is any likelihood that the adhesive you can see in these photos could contain asbestos? I haven’t been able to find any authority on such things and I’m a bit paranoid. Any help appreciated!

photo 1 photo 2

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    Have a sample tested if it will make you sleep easier. Odds are strongly against...
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 18 at 2:17
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    Does any adhesive contain asbestos? I cannot imagine why one would add asbestos to wood glue.
    – Willk
    Jan 18 at 3:40
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    Blackjack floor tile adhesive often contained asbestos. Not heard of its use in any other glue. It's not a substitute for testing, but the internet is so full of money-chasing asbestos lawyers that if you can't find a reference to "asbestos in X" by searching, you're probably safe. I'm paranoid but I wouldn't worry about wood glue.
    – aucuparia
    Jan 18 at 10:30
  • The only way to be 100% certain that it does/does not contain asbestos is to have it tested. Chipping a sample off to take it to a lab will, potentially, expose you to about as much as chipping it off to replace it, so, as noted in George's answer, don't sweat it.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 18 at 13:05
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    Not a definitive answer but based on the screw head I'd say that's a recent fix and the glue you can see there is probably gripfill or equivalent which is pretty modern. Does it have a sligh greenish tint to it? Jan 18 at 14:25
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As I've posted before, the risks of asbestos exposure on a very infrequent basis in a residential setting are highly over-blown. The real risks were for construction workers (pipe insulators, HVAC insulators, etc. ), back 50-60 years ago who where exposed to asbestos dust on a daily basis. I know the lawyers will hate me for saying this, but frankly asbestosis only occurred in an industrial setting not one off residential exposure to tiny amounts of asbestos. It's not a poison, just an irritant that can lead to lung damage over a long period of time. It's serious, but a one time exposure, probably very little, isn't anything to worry about.

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    I would just add that doing this restoration outside would all but eliminate any potential risk.
    – daneb
    Jan 18 at 3:16
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    True, asbestosis is only caused by heavy and/or long-term exposure. But mesothelioma can be caused by any exposure to asbestos, with no safe level. Smaller exposures just give rise to smaller (but not zero) risks. So in my book it is worth taking sensible precautions to reduce exposure. Extreme precautions to reduce large exposures, smaller precautions to reduce smaller exposures. Doing it outside and wearing a mask would be sensible (moreso for wood dust than the glue).
    – aucuparia
    Jan 18 at 10:25
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    +100 for a thoughtful, reasoned answer that avoids media-induced fear and panic!
    – FreeMan
    Jan 18 at 13:04
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    I should just add to this that tests have showed that a single asbestos fibre placed in a rat's lung can be sufficient to cause mesothelioma. Jan 18 at 14:27
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    We all have masks anyway nowadays, so it's not like you have an excuse for not wearing one while working on a project that has the potential to generate small inhalable particles. :) (It's a joke, please don't correct me on whether a COVID mask is suitable for such or not.)
    – Ian Kemp
    Jan 18 at 14:27

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