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

England star Stuart Pearce has helped to raise awareness of mesothelioma

Mesothelioma: How an England footballer is bringing home the dangers of this hidden killer

THIS afternoon, England’s Three Lions made a winning start to their World Cup campaign beating Iran in their first match in Qatar. But one footballing legend fears he could be in danger of developing mesothelioma after starting his career as an electrician in the 1980s. While former England legend Stuart Pearce is now undoubtedly best … Read more

Viviana, one of the newest members of Acorn's team

Team talk: Meet Viviana one of the talented new recruits at Acorn Analytical Services

WITH the UK in the grip of an asbestos epidemic, recruiting talented, experienced staff to join the award-winning team of experts at Acorn Analytical Services has never been more important. Despite being banned in new buildings more than 20 years ago, asbestos remains a huge problem for many businesses and, as a result, demand for … Read more

It's time to learn your asbestos ABC

Asbestos: How learning your ABC could help us to save lives

At Acorn Analytical Services we have one very simple message – ABC – or Asbestos Before Construction. It’s a simple message but it’s also an important one. Before carrying out building work of any kind you must check for the presence of asbestos first. Not doing so could have potentially serious implications for the health … Read more

Our Movember heroes, Lewis, Dave and Dan

Meet Dave, Dan and Lewis – Acorn’s amazing Movember heroes

AS we start November, Acorn Analytical Services is very proud to be supporting Movember, the annual charity event which shines a spotlight on men’s health, in particular, mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. We pride ourselves on being at the heart of our community and we always try to give back … Read more

Asbestos management company is growing

Acorn Analytical Services: An ambitious asbestos management company which continues to grow

FROM small acorns strong businesses grow – something that everyone at Acorn Analytical Services is extremely proud of. Even in turbulent times, Acorn Analytical Services continues to lead the way, offering reliable asbestos management services to a wide range of businesses and organisations – from well-known high street brands to local schools and colleges. In … Read more

Asbestos training

Asbestos training: Acorn Analytical Services launches free session to build knowledge among architects

ASBESTOS has once again dominated the headlines this week reaffirming our worst fears that the UK is in the grip of an asbestos epidemic. Many older buildings, including factories, schools and hospitals, contain this dangerous material which over time is starting to degrade. It’s a ticking timebomb and, as one of the UK’s leading consultancies, … Read more

Mesothelioma dangers in the classroom

Mesothelioma: We must protect our teachers from any hidden dangers

BEHIND every statistic we read about mesothelioma there lies a story – the story of another life lost from prolonged exposure to asbestos. Sadly, over the years it’s a story that has become all too familiar. Despite being banned in the UK more than 20 years ago, asbestos is still all around us – in … Read more

Asbestos industry turbulence: Acorn remains strong

Asbestos industry turbulence: Acorn Analytical Services is strong, dynamic and well-placed to weather the storm

WHILE economic uncertainty may be starting to bite in the asbestos industry, Acorn Analytical Services continues to go from strength to strength offering essential support to clients right across the UK. With more than 20 years’ experience in the asbestos and health and safety industry, we’ve become a trusted partner to a growing number of … Read more

Mesothelioma day 2022

Mesothelioma Day: Shining a light on the work of Mesothelioma UK

TODAY, September 26, marks Mesothelioma Day in the US, an important day to raise awareness of the disease and of the dangers of asbestos worldwide. Even though asbestos was banned from new buildings in the UK more than 20 years ago, it is a problem we all still live with. Many buildings, including factories, schools … Read more

Behind the scenes of our laboratories

The science bit: Putting the important work of our laboratories under the microscope

AMONG the experts at Acorn Analytical Services is a dedicated team of laboratory analysts who work in our in-house laboratories in Northampton and Cleckheaton. Their work involves supporting our consultants, and our clients, by analysing samples of materials which are found on-site or sent to us to be investigated. Here we take a more detailed … Read more