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When removing drywall we noticed old wallpaper or painted plaster underneath and behind an old door frame we took down. When looking at the designs we noticed white fibers and are worried it might be asbestos.

Please tell me I’m being paranoid and it’s just horse or animal hair. Our home was built in 1898.

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    "Please tell me I’m being paranoid and it’s just horse or animal hair" OK, You are being paranoid and it’s just horse or animal hair. Are there any other unsubstantiated claims you want me to make? Perhaps your question should be, How does one test for asbestos?
    – Alaska Man
    Feb 28 at 18:12
  • A quick flame passed under will help, if it disappears in smoke, that's good. If it stays - then dont know. Mar 1 at 8:31
  • What if it's horsehair and asbestos? Asbestos is identified under a microscope by a trained technician, period.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Mar 1 at 19:02
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You cannot identify asbestos-containing material by looking at it.
If in doubt have it tested!

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JWH is correct: simple visual inspection will be inconclusive. But to point up that you are right to be concerned, here's Wikipedia:

The use of asbestos became increasingly widespread toward the end of the 19th century, when its diverse applications included fire-retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes and fireplace cement, heat-, fire-, and acid-resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, flooring, roofing, lawn furniture and drywall joint compound.

If the board in your photograph dates from the original build, I would hazard — even though there's not a large amount visible — that it may even be likely to be "the latest thing" and you should definitely get it tested.

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  • I had plaster in an old house that used horse hair as the fibrous ingredient. Feb 28 at 16:23
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I've seen some old horsehair plaster and the fibers were brown and arranged in long straight clumps. Your pictures show white fibers that are more randomly arranged. I'd get it tested before disturbing any more of it.

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