Asbestos insulating boards and the problems with their removal

Asbestos Insulating Board

Asbestos insulating boards are boards that have a high asbestos content usually containing Amosite (Brown) and can also contain Chrysotile (White) asbestos. When you look at an unpainted board you can see the asbestos fibres. The boards can be easily damaged and can easily release asbestos fibres.

They tend to be off white or grey in colour, depending on how much asbestos they contain. Older board can contain Crocidolite (Blue) asbestos which can easily been seen in unsealed boards.

Where were asbestos insulating boards used?

The boards were used all over because they were so versatile. It is amazing how much they were used and the locations they were used in. Sometimes there is no obvious reason as to why the material is present which is a problem in itself for asbestos surveyors.

It was used as a liner, panelling, fire breaks, glass buildings, packaging, flooring, windows. Due to its versatile use it was used for anything and everywhere. Most commonly, the boards were used in ceiling tiles and this is a big area of concern in this country.

As it was often employed as a fire protector it was extensively used in buildings such as schools, hospitals, factories, warehouses, offices and even houses.

In houses, it was predominantly used around boilers, heating systems and electrics – anywhere which could be a fire risk. Warm air units would be lined and all the vents and ducts would be lined with asbestos insulation boards. The warm air blowing through the ducting is blowing across the asbestos which has its own problems.

How were asbestos insulating boards installed?

It was installed along the same lines as timber is installed – screwed, nailed, glued and even laid in grids. Generally speaking, carpenters would tend to be the ones to saw them, fix them and install them.

How do we remove asbestos insulating boards?

Generally, this work needs to be carried out by a licensed asbestos contractor, under fully controlled conditions and the local enforcing authority will need to be notified. An asbestos enclosure is constructed and the removal takes place in a negative pressure environment. It is vital that the correct decontamination procedures are used and that all asbestos removal contractors wear appropriate person protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

The process varies depending on the application, how it was used and how was it fixed.  Like all asbestos, you need to supress the material. Handheld sprayers are used to make sure it is damp to reduce the release of any fibres. If you have a ceiling that has been screwed and painted over the contractor will need to use magnets to locate the screw heads and then remove the screws whilst shallow vacuuming.

Once the board have been removed, the area is fully decontaminated and air tests are carried out to ensure the area is free of contamination. Asbestos insulating board waste is then transported to an authorised asbestos waste centre.

On occasions, you can remove a whole loose board without disturbing it and that may be considered non-licensed work but generally this work would be enclosed works and a removal licence is required.

What issues do you face when you remove asbestos insulating boards?

You need to consider how it was installed in the first place. If it was drilled in situ, dust and debris may have formed and gone into wall voids and ceiling voids. You also have to consider how the material may have been treated over the years when other work has gone on. We have seen electricians hammer through the board and then dust and debris is left sitting on the surface below.

When tiles are removed from a painted asbestos insulating board, the paint sticks to the grid the tiles were on. Left behind will be residue stuck from the tile onto the grid. You may be able to remove the tile whole but if it breaks off, you end up with insulating board stuck on that paint.

Occasionally, people will want to keep their old tracking for their new tiles to go in, but sometimes demolition is needed and the tracking will get broken. Tracking might need to be removed to get to asbestos otherwise the area is not going to be left in a safe state.

With asbestos removal, sometimes there are surprises. When you are taking down ceilings, you can’t 100% know what’s above the ceiling until you start work. You may find services in the ceiling void which will lead to additional cleaning and decontamination works. Additional items left in the asbestos enclosure will add time on to the 4 stage clearance as all of these items will need to be visually inspected by the asbestos analyst to ensure they are free from all dust and debris prior to the certificate of reoccupation being issued.

We’re a professional asbestos consultancy helping businesses deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos testing, and asbestos removal. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or email info@acorn-as.com

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Asbestos isn't a headache with the Acorn Compliance Antidote

Asbestos isn’t a problem with the Acorn Compliance Antidote

AT Acorn Analytical Services we’re probably best known for the work we do supporting businesses with asbestos surveys and asbestos management. But did you also know that we offer a full package of health and safety services through our Acorn Compliance Antidote? The antidote is the perfect way to get all your health and safety … Read more

Asbestos consultancy celebrates the opening of new regional office

Asbestos company celebrates the opening of new regional office in Wolverhampton

EARLIER this month the team at Acorn Analytical Services was delighted to welcome the Deputy Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre and the Deputy Mayoress, Lynn Plant to the opening of our new asbestos management office in Wolverhampton. It was a very proud day for regional manager, Lewis Scott and his team, and Acorn’s … Read more

Emma Gooding, one of our women in construction

Women in Construction: Highlighting the work of two incredible women at the heart of our team

HIGHLY-SKILLED, talented women in construction are right at the heart of Acorn Analytical Services’ success, taking on key roles within our business and leading the fight against the UK’s asbestos epidemic. In recent years, many more women in construction have chosen to take on roles within the asbestos industry and at Acorn we do everything … Read more

Asbestos Book

Asbestos: The Dark Arts – essential reading for anyone involved in health and safety this World Book Day

AS well as being part of one of the UK’s leading asbestos consultancies, Acorn Analytical Services’ directors Ian Stone and Neil Munro have also written best-selling books on asbestos and health and safety. The books, which include their five-star rated title Asbestos: The Dark Arts, have quickly become essential reading to anyone involved in facilities … Read more

Asbestos bitesize training sessions for you and your business

Asbestos: Free bitesize sessions from the experts at Acorn will help keep your team protected from this hidden killer

IT may have been banned from new buildings more than 20 years ago but asbestos still poses a huge threat to the health and wellbeing of our society. Thousands of buildings – including many schools – still contain asbestos which can go on to cause deadly cancer if it is damaged or disturbed releasing microscopic … Read more

Asbestos analyst Jake is a shining star

Asbestos analyst Jake is a shining example of how apprenticeships can be a huge success for everyone

IT’S National Apprenticeship Week and what better way to celebrate than by shining the spotlight on asbestos analyst, Jake Newell. Jake joined Acorn Analytical Services as an apprentice in 2021 and since then he has completed his training, shown outstanding commitment and dedication to his role and been recognised for his efforts by winning – … Read more

2022 - A big year in the fight against asbestos

2022: A big year for Acorn Analytical Services in the fight against a hidden killer

2022 was a big year for the team of experts at multi award-winning asbestos management consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services. It was a year which saw the business grow and develop, we took on new staff and we helped support businesses, charities and organisations right across the UK by helping to manage their asbestos and raise … Read more

Asbestos awareness: Education is key

Asbestos awareness: ‘Educating the public is key’

WHEN it comes to raising awareness of the dangers of asbestos, education and training are absolutely key. With so much advice out there, it can be difficult to know where to turn for information you can trust and training which is tailored to suit your individual needs. To mark national Day of Education, the team … Read more

Asbestos is a big problem on the high street

Asbestos on the high street continues to dominate the headlines

The headlines have once again been dominated this week by stories of high street premises which have been affected by asbestos. In November, Acorn Analytical Services shone a spotlight on the growing epidemic in towns and cities across the UK and urged companies and shop owners to put the safety of their staff and customers … Read more

Reducing asbestos in schools should be a clear priority

‘Reducing asbestos in schools should be our first priority’

FOR many years the team at Acorn Analytical Services has been calling for full asbestos risk assessments to be carried out in schools right across the UK. With many schools having been built during the post-war period when the use of asbestos was at its highest, we fear that many school buildings still contain the … Read more