Can Old Furniture Have Asbestos?: Your Guide To This Dangerous Substance

Can old furniture have asbestos, a harmful substance known to cause cancer and other diseases? Read on to know how you can protect your family from this deadly chemical.

Do you have old furniture? Are you worried whether your old furniture has asbestos? All such questions take place when you own old furniture or antique pieces in your home. As we know, asbestos is toxic for health, so it is essential to know the facts about asbestos and how we can prevent it.

This harmful mineral has been seen in old furniture and many household items. Asbestos is a standard fiber found in many building materials since the 1980s. As per research, it is found in many houses in the US. So here in this write-up, I am going to share every information about asbestos and furniture. 

What is Asbestos? 

Asbestos is a type of mineral fiber. There are many kinds of asbestos fibers. But the common thing among all of them is that they are invisible to the naked eye, you cannot observe them without a microscope. In the last century, asbestos used to be added to furniture and construction materials to give them superior strength and make them heat and fire-resistant. 

Can Old Furniture Have Asbestos

So when we talk about old furniture, there is quite a possibility that asbestos is present in old pieces. But, still, we are not sure as asbestos is wholly associated with construction. 

A perfect Guide To Asbestos 

Before we head to a decision, Can old furniture have asbestos? Or Do we have asbestos in houses? Let us read an ultimate guide on asbestos. 

In the early times, when people used to make their homes themselves, many of them knocked down ceilings, walls, faced issues of tearing out tiles and pipes. But with their efforts of upgrading and beautifying the houses, they unintentionally breathe the toxic asbestos fiber air. 

Can old furniture have asbestos? 

Before getting to the answer to this question, we must know: does asbestos settle on old furniture? The presence of asbestos in furniture is not harmful until the furniture gets damaged. Then, deteriorating asbestos that dries up and forms a powder can be released into the air, further detrimental to health. 

Can Old Furniture Have Asbestos

The structure of asbestos fiber has the property of getting stuck to surfaces easily. As a result, these microscopic fibers tend to adhere to fabrics, skin, and any surface. 

The fiber can settle on your furniture, whether it is a couch, chair, bed, or any piece of furniture. Due to its settling feature, if anyone has old furniture, they can find asbestos on them. 

When Is Asbestos Harmful? 

The most usual way asbestos can enter the body is through breathing. Asbestos is generally not considered harmful unless it is in the air from where people can inhale or ingest it. Once the released asbestos fiber and dust are trapped into the body, it causes many health diseases. 

Asbestos is harmful when it is crumbled and released into the air. Old furniture, ceilings, flooring, fire doors, etc., that contain asbestos do not release the fiber unless it is damaged or disturbed in any way. 

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For example, if a ceiling tile that is asbestos-exposed is broken, it can release the fibers in the air, and if it is not damaged, it will not be released. Damage or deterioration of products will increase the spread count of asbestos-containing elements. Aging, water damage, drilling, buffing, or cutting that breaks down the asbestos material is more likely to release the fiber. 

Adverse Health effects 

It is tough to destroy asbestos fibers; that is why a body can’t break down or get rid of it once they enter lungs and body tissues. 

Three main health issues are related to asbestos exposure: 

  • Cancer 
  • Asbestosis 
  • Mesothelioma 


It is a severe and chronic respiratory disease. There is an aggravate lung tissue when a person inhales asbestos fiber that causes a scar. Dry crackling sounds and shortness of breath are the main symptoms of asbestosis. If it is at an advanced stage, it can lead to a cardiac attack. Unfortunately, there is no reliable treatment to get rid of asbestos, and it is a fatal disease. 

Can Old Furniture Have Asbestos

Lung Cancer 

Due to asbestos exposure, there are a large number of deaths caused by lung cancer. There is a high possibility of lung cancer, especially in people who are into mining, manufacturing, and use asbestos and their products. The primary symptoms of this disease are constant coughing and change in breathing. 


It is a rare and another form of cancer that is usually present in the membrane lining of the lungs, chest, and abdomen. All cases of mesothelioma are due to asbestos exposure. 

Other Cancers 

As per the study, other cancers also take place due to asbestos exposure. For example, cancer in the esophagus, oral cavity, stomach, colon, and kidney are caused by ingesting asbestos. 

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Where Can Asbestos Be Found In-home? 

Many home and public structures in the US, like schools, hospitals, office buildings, and more built before 1980, have asbestos in many areas. They usually have asbestos in the following things: 

  • Cement 
  • Ceiling 
  • Floor Tiles 
  • Textured Paint 
  • Roof Shingles 

So due to the presence of asbestos in many areas of the house, there is also a possibility of having them on old furniture pieces. When asbestos is damaged, it goes in the air and gets stuck in many places like furniture and more. Watch the video below to know how you can search for asbestos in your home.

Where to find asbestos in houses

Common Asbestos Exposure Areas 

In your home, asbestos exposure can take place in many ways. Here are a few scenarios about How do you know if you have asbestos? 

Attic Renovation 

Many people find piles of brown pebbles that seem like insulation when it comes to attic renovation. However, while the loose insulation is trashed in a bag, people realized that the attic was insulated with asbestos. So if you have an old house, there is a high probability of having asbestos in an insulated attic that falls through cracks in the ceiling. So it has become essential to replace existing insulation with new fiberglass insulation to save extra dollars in winters

Drilling In Drywall 

As per studies, the drywall of an old house contains asbestos fiber, and it is usually exposed when drilling is done to hang pictures. 

Vinyl Floor Tiles 

Loose Vinyl floor tiles are the most contaminated areas. Most of the time, asbestos is found in loose floor tiles. So one has to get tested, as old home floors release harmful asbestos fibers. 

What Can We Do About Asbestos In A home? 

If you found anything in your home with asbestos, like old furniture, ceiling wall, or more, you should not touch it. Even if the area is in good condition, you would be better off leaving it alone. Immediately, contact a professional and get rid of it. Until professionals come, it is better to limit access to such areas. 

How Can I Know If an Area or Thing Has Asbestos In My House? 

It is impossible to know whether the area has asbestos or not by just looking at it; you need to get it checked by a lab or a professional. You can collect its samples and get them tested in a lab. But the safer part is to call a professional at your home and get it tested. The Department of Commerce, US, offers a list of accredited professionals who will come to your place to check whether the area is asbestos-exposed or not. 

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How To Protect Yourself from Asbestos 

If you own an old house or old furniture, take every possible precaution to avoid further damage to things that may have been exposed to asbestos. 

Even if you think only minor repairs are required, you must still call a professional. Improper handling of asbestos can lead to exposure to many health risks. Here are some dos and don’t for asbestos. 


  • One should avoid contact with materials containing asbestos, like furniture, floor tiles, and more. 
  • Do not damage any asbestos material as it can spread to other areas. 
  • You must speak to a real estate agent or home inspector before you buy an old house about whether it is asbestos-exposed or not. 
  • In the case of asbestos exposure, hire professionals only for inspection and testing. 


  • Never drill or sand any material that contains asbestos. 
  • Do not sweep or vacuum debris that contains asbestos
  • You should not have asbestos sampling yourself unless you are trained. 
  • It is advisable not to throw asbestos material with regular household waste. 

Watch the video below for a detailed commentary on asbestos in homes:

How To Know If You Have Asbestos

Frequently Asked Questions

# What are the symptoms of asbestosis? 

As asbestos is harmful to health, here are few symptoms of asbestos: 

  • Continuous dry cough 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Chest pain 
  • Dry sound in lungs 
  • Wider fingertips 

# Does Bakelite still contain asbestos?

Sometimes, asbestos was added as a filler in the wood. Unfortunately, Bakelite contains more than 5% asbestos, which is dangerous. But before you get bakelite products, you can know whether they contain asbestos or not. 

# When was asbestos used in Canada?

Asbestos was added to products to make them long-lasting, fire-resistant, and strong. The use of asbestos declined in the 1970s. Before 1990, asbestos was used to insulate buildings and homes for making noise and fireproofing.

You can also find it in old auto parts. Unfortunately, asbestos took a long time to be banned:

Is there asbestos in your home?

# What should I do if I am exposed to asbestos?

The first thing you must do when exposed to asbestos is to consult a doctor immediately. They are the best person who can determine the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. The excellent news, asbestos exposure is harmless, whether it is short-term or long-term. 

It Is Possible That Your Old Furniture Can Have Asbestos.

Houses constructed in the early part of the 20th century contained asbestos. When asbestos gets damaged, it goes into the air and gets stuck to any surface. So whether it is a floor or a piece of furniture, there is a chance that asbestos is present. 

So, to answer the question: “Can old furniture have asbestos?” The answer is yes; old furniture may have asbestos. So before you use one, get it tested from a certified asbestos laboratory.