A Look At Asbestos And How It Was Used In Partition Walls
Today, we understand that asbestos is a dangerous material despite its otherwise desirable properties. But this wasn’t well understood until the end of the 20th century. Before this, a large variety of materials across the globe were manufacturing using asbestos. It can be found in floors, ceilings, partition walls, and even a variety of household items. If your UK home was built prior to 1999, then there is a very real possibility that asbestos was used to some degree.
Finding Asbestos In Partition Walls
Partition walls are found on the inside of commercial buildings and residential homes alike. They are non-load-bearing walls that serve the sole purpose of separating rooms rather than supporting the structure. The insulation properties of partition walls are important for maintaining comfortable and separate temperatures in different rooms. This is the main reason partition walls built through the 20th century often used asbestos.
The heat-resisting qualities of asbestos have always been one of its strongest advantages. It is the reason we can find asbestos in partition walls, sprayed around pipes, and in many older home appliances like stoves and toasters. The material does an excellent job of resisting heat and managing temperature. Unfortunately, it also significantly increases cancer risks.
What Are The Types Of Asbestos
Asbestos is a mineral fibre that occurs naturally in six different forms. Of these forms, three are commonly mined and used in the production of asbestos products. They are:
1. Chrysotile – Also known as white asbestos or serpentine asbestos. Chrysotile accounts for roughly 98 percent of the asbestos production during the late 20th century. The chrysotile fibres are softer than any of the alternatives, which makes it the safest of the group in terms of potential lung damage.
2. Croicidolite – Also known as blue asbestos. This asbestos has the thinnest fibres, which makes it very common in spray-on insulation. The fact that it is sprayed loosely and has very strong fibres makes it particularly dangerous to encounter. It should only be handled by a professional.
3. Amosite – Also known as brown asbestos. These fibres are more coarse and difficult to spin into usable fabric. Brown asbestos is relied on in insulating materials. Despite the name “brown asbestos”, Amosite may still appear in other colours, including white.
The remaining three types of asbestos minerals are tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite. They have no commercial use in are rarely mined. Usable asbestos is still mined regularly in many countries despite heavily restricted in most modern countries. Russia and Kazakhstan mined more than 950 million metric tons of asbestos between 2010 and 2019.
Which Kind Of Asbestos Is Used In Partition Walls?
Partition walls, especially those manufactured between 1960 and 980, may include Asbestos Insulating Board(AIB). These boards were widely used around the entire globe for their ability to insulate against heat and sound. In commercial buildings, the AIB partition walls were used to separate most offices and rooms. At home, it was more frequently used in bathroom and kitchen partition walls.
AIB partition boards use a dense combination of amosite and chrysotile. Most of these partition boards will contain at least 45 percent asbestos, which makes them very dangerous. Regular interaction with these walls will greatly increase a person’s risk of developing fatal lung disease.
If you believe there are partition walls in your home that use AIB, then you should contact a professional. Do not attempt to remove or replace the boards yourself because this will only increase the health risks. At the very least, consider contacting an environmental health officer to discuss the best course of action with the least amount of risk.