Is this asbestos?

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Hello,

Are you able to help? Our house was built in 1964. It has cavity walls. We were getting an electrician to move a plug socket and I saw this in the cavity wall. I'm so afraid it's asbestos cavity wall insulation. It looks quite solid in the photos, and I'm not 100% sure the stuff in the close up is the same as in the walls, but the electrician poked the stuff in the wall and it was so loose and sprayed up a load of white fluffy stuff.
20220520_110022.jpg
20220520_110029.jpg
 
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i would say that looks more like old expanding foam that was quite commonly squirted into cavity walls. but hard to tell obviously. Asbestos has a ‘fibrous’ sort of texture rather than powdery. But if you want to put your mind at ease you could send it off for a lab test. We have a 1964 house too but our cavity has been filled with blow in mineral wool.
 
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Well the stuff inside the box and on the wall to the left behind it (circled red) is expanded polyurethane foam.

Asbestos Worry 001.jpg


The woven stuff above and to the right of the box is woven stuff - but it isn't asbestos, the fluffy-looking stuff inside the wall looks like blown cellulose cavity insulation which AFAIK is asbestos-free, but if it is the same material as the stuff in the box then it is expanded foam. Take a look at another site, especially the paragraph headed "Is Loose Fill Soft, Grey and Lacks Shine" and that should answer your question.

In the past a lot of materials did contain asbestos, but the fibres are much smaller than a human hair and TBH the human eye cannot resolve the fibres as they are so fine (in other words you can't tell by looking - it takes examination under a microscope and a spectrographic test) so it is often a case of knowing what some of the products are and getting samples tested depending on what you find. If your electrician is working on pre-2000 houses (which shouldn't contain asbestos as its' use was banned in 1999), he really needs to do a UKATA asebestos awareness course, which could stop panics like this - costs £30 and takes an hour or so on-line. On big sites we are obliged to redo this certification when working on buildings which are pre-2000. It isn't an option.
 
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Thanks both, that has set my mind at rest a bit. We are getting it tested on Monday, but it's the panic in the interim!
 
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Ps I think it's more likely to be degraded foam than cellulose. It appeared very white when disturbed and very fragile. Looked solid at a distance though!
 
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When foam degrades, especially in light, it often goes yellow or even brown at the surface. Some of the older foams are extremely friable and can turn to what I can only descibe as dry, coarse dust which is feather light - nothing like asbestos containing materials
 

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