Panicking!!! Possible Asbestos exposure

31 Dec 2005
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United Kingdom
I pulled a panel off an old panelled door yesterday and thought nothing of it at the time until my partner came along and said "is that asbestos?" I didn't realise it was used to panel over doors and it broke into bits as I was taking it off. So now I'm panicking :( I carried on with the job using a mask and goggles and I was outside but is the damage done? What do you do if you think you've been exposed?

Here are pics. Please someone tell me it's not asbestos.



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only if you eat it. or if it drops on your head from a great height.

You should however be carefull with it, and double bag it
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At my old school - old WWII American Hospital, nissen huts etc - the heating pipes were above ground and lagged with asbestos. Which we used to pick great clumps of and hurl at each other.

30-odd years later, I'm still in the best of h
If it is left alone and not tampered with its fine. However if it breaks thats when the particles go airborne. You wont notice it becasue its tiny sort of fibres. Short exposore would be OK. I would be more concerned where you took that panel down and the area it covered.

Wet the broken bits down to minimise the Asbestos dust double bag abd tape it and dispose in a dedicates Asbestos disposal site.
Oh ok. So no need for me to panic then? So far it's the only bit we've found in the house (touch wood). All the other doors were left uncovered.

It's just all those scaremongers who tell you that it only takes one particle to get into your lungs and you get asbestosis, I sort of panicked when my partner pointed it out to me, and then he was more worried about our cat who had rolled on the ground by the bits which had broken off :rolleyes:

Than you for all the advice, it's set my mind at rest.
amanda - how thick is it? It's probably NOT asbestos but a material known as Superlux or Masterboard which came in thicknesses of 6mm, 9mm, 12.5mm (or Imperial equivs). These sheets were commonly used to face doors to make them firedoors in the past- all are asbestos free. Flat asbestos was commonly available 'in the day' at 4.5mm thick (Imperial equiv) - yours looks too thick to be asbestos.

Anyway, a brief sniff of the nasty stuff is nothing to worry about; problems come from 'prolonged' exposure.
I have been in the asbestos industry for 15 years and now am a Director of my own removal company.
Take it from me...this IS definitely asbestos. Amosite to be technical. Brown asbestos. Dont take any notice of the colour. It is the second worse type next to pipe insulation and broken dry releases huge amounts of fibres.
I think you said this got broken outdoors and if so air dilution would have taken care of most of the risk.
This needs to be soaked with water mixed with washing up liquid to act as a surfactant. Preferable using a small spray bottle. It will take on plenty of water.
You have to use a surfactant with amosite as it is an 'amphibole' and as such the fibres shed water like a ducks back under a microscope.
Then wrap the panels and get a contractor to dispose of it. DO NOT PUT IT IN A SKIP - YOU WILL BE PROSECUTED. I kid you not.
Do not use a regular vacuum to clear any mess - this will not only permanently contaminate the vac, but the really dangerous fibres (under 3 microns) will go straight through the filter system and stay airborne for at least 72 hours.
Oh - and wash all the clothes you were wearing separately immediately, dont go mixing them with the rest of your washing.
Hope this helped.
Woah! Thanks Dean, some really good advice there. I've actually bagged it up already. It is well sealed in 3 bags and sealed with packing tape. Unfortunately the clothes have already been in contact with others. So I'd better wash the lot now.

Yes all the work was done outside and the broken bits and debris was put into bin bags (oops already dumped!).

Feeling a bit panicky again now! Wish I saw your reply sooner!
The only people that really needed to worry were boiler makers and repairers who in the old days came home white every night covered in asbestos dust. Most of them never died from exposure either. Asbestos removal companies like to ham it up so that they can all become millionaires.
I find this sort of thing quite amusing really (not refering to the op particularly by the way) " oh my god i've been in contact with asbestos, its dangerous and might make me ill" and yet we manufacture sell and burn millions of "cancer sticks" !!!!
The health risks from something as described in the op's post must be very minimal.
As joe says the asbestos removal companies like to make a big issue of it, don't get me wrong it needs to be treated with respect, but life is full of risks (it would be very boring if we didn't have to take any risks, which seems to be the health and safety police's ultimate target)
amanda - as someone who converted loads of period houses into flats in the 1970s we skinned 100s of existing doors to make them ½hr firedoors using the stuff I posted about earlier (Masterboard or Superlux). I've seen tons of the stuff and yours looks the same ... and I'm looking at exactly the same pics as oogzy. So take your pick but still don't worry. By the way my local authority recyling centre takes bagged asbestos for free ... maybe your does too (phone the Council to find out); it'll save you money.
Its all moot whether it is or it isn't asbestos, as the release/exposure has occurred.

But those breaks are not going to have released any significant fibres in context of the limited and short time period of exposure

Much, if not all of the HSE regs for asbestos removal are based on the safety of the workers under potential prolonged contact, and do not relate to limited possible contact like this.

The OP has probably breathed in more asbestos fibres naturally present in the air when she last went out shopping, than she would have done in this situation

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