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

Harris and Lucas have both been diagnosed with Becker Muscular Dystrophy

Sarah’s story: The inspiration behind A Mile a Day in May for Muscular Dystrophy UK

At Acorn, we pride ourselves on our family values and the strength of our team spirit which help to make our company the success that it is. Together, we’ve built a team which works hard, celebrates the successes and pulls together in difficult times. When life gets hard for one of us it affects us … Read more

Acorn Analytical Services is raising awareness of asbestos

Asbestos may be out of sight but it should never be out of mind

WITH construction methods advancing all the time its easy to think of asbestos as a building material which has long been consigned to the history books. Used extensively in post-war Britain, as a cheap building material known primarily for its fire-retardant properties, asbestos was central to the rebuilding of the UK used in many public … Read more

Asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services continues to grow

Asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services grows its team after successful start to 2024

THE start of the year has been a busy one for the team at asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services with a number of new clients coming on board. These are exciting times for Acorn – and as the business has continued to grow – so too has our team. Since Christmas, we’ve created 12 … Read more

The new senior leadership team at asbestos managment consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services. From left to right, Sian Stone, Sam Savage and Daniel Crask.

Three reasons why you should always #chooseacorn for all of your asbestos management needs

If you’re a regular visitor to our social media channels you’ll almost certainly have seen the hashtag #chooseacorn being used and maybe even wondered why. For Acorn Analytical Services these two words alone mark a real step change in the way we do business – representing a fresh start and a bolder, much more innovative … Read more

The new senior leadership team at asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services. From left to right, Steve McGlone, Andy Jackson and Simon Rodham.

Award-winning asbestos management consultancy starts 2024 with a new senior team

AWARD-WINNING asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services has announced a new senior leadership team to take the company into 2024 and beyond. After a record-breaking year which saw the company recognised for High Growth at the National SME Awards while taking on new clients and winning new business across the UK, Acorn Analytical Services, which … Read more

Ian Stone, director of asbestos management consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services

Let’s start 2024 in the right way – by getting rid of the dangers of asbestos for good

According to the latest data from the Health and Safety Executive 2,268 people died from asbestos-related mesothelioma in 2021 alone. It’s a shocking statistic, particularly when you consider that the use of asbestos in new buildings was banned in the UK in 1999 – more than 20 years ago. With Cancer Research UK confirming that … Read more

This Men's Health Month is time to talk about absestos

Men’s Health Month – it’s time to talk openly about asbestos

NOVEMBER marks Men’s Health Month – a time for shining the spotlight on the conditions and issues which affect men from all walks of life. While the focus quite rightly turns to serious health issues including Prostate Cancer, Testicular Cancer and mental health, at Acorn Analytical Services we want people to start talking about asbestos. … Read more

Asbestos consultancy Acorn Analytical Services will soon be moving into new offices

Have you heard the news? Asbestos consultancy Acorn Analytical Services Northampton is on the move

IF you haven’t heard the news already, we are delighted to announce that asbestos connsultancy Acorn Analytical Services Northampton will be starting a brand-new chapter very soon. In the coming days, our team will be moving to new – much larger – offices on Northampton’s Moulton Park, the place which has been our home for … Read more

asbestos in talcum powder

Unveiling the Hidden Danger: The Menace of Asbestos in Talcum Powder and the UK’s Stance

Explore the veiled danger of asbestos in talcum powder, the UK’s vigilant regulations, and the unfolding narrative of consumer safety. Dive into the rigorous testing methodologies, industry responses, and the promising horizon of international cooperation aiming to foster a safer landscape in the realm of personal care products.

RAAC and asbestos could be a problem in some buildings

Raac and ruin? How concrete crisis also raises the question of asbestos

A LOT has been said recently about Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) and asbestos. While fears about the safety of RAAC continue to dominate the headlines both nationally and locally, it is the additional threat from asbestos which we believe should be discussed now as a matter of urgency. Just as RAAC is crumbling in … Read more