Cardboard ceilings and vermiculite insulation

After I removed the wooden mouldings from the ceiling, I started to remove the cardboard ceiling. I chose a sloping part because there are no electric lights or light switches there. I inserted the smaller crowbar into the edge near the corner, where the skanky-looking bit of cardboard ceiling is, and pulled. A bit broke off. I repeated the process. A bit broke off. This looked like it was going to take a long time. I turned to the internet for help.

I found out that the ceiling is made from fibreboard, not cardboard. So I googled how to remove a fibreboard ceiling. I found a page asking about whether they should plaster over their fibreboard ceiling or plasterboard over it. Not exactly what I was wanting, but I hoped someone would say to remove the fibreboard, and say how to remove it. They said neither.

There was one comment making a fuss about asbestos. I got all curious about asbestos, and so googled it. The government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a list. It seems a scary list. There’s a picture, too.

HSE: where you can find asbestos in a residential property

A. Asbestos cement Water tank
B. Pipe lagging
C. Loose fill insulation
D. Textured decorative coating e.g. artex
E. AIB ceiling tiles
F. AIB bath panel
G. Toilet seat and cistern
H. AIB behind fuse box
I. AIB airing cupboard and/or sprayed insulation coating boiler
J. AIB partition wall
K. AIB interior window panel  
L. AIB around boiler
M. Vinyl floor tiles
N. AIB behind fire
O. Gutters andAsbestos cement downpipes
P. Soffits – AIB or asbestos cement
Q. AIB exterior window panel
R. Asbestos cement roof
S. Asbestos cement panels
T. Roofing felt
AIB = Asbestos Insulating Board

Note that location C is loose fill insulation. We have something scattered across the loft floor that looks suspiciously like vermiculite. This vermiculite will likely fall to the floor, and all over me, when I remove the horizontal part of the ceiling. I hadn’t thought vermiculite contained asbestos, but I checked the internet anyway.

I found out that pure vermiculite doesn’t contain asbestos, but, depending on where the vermiculite is mined, it can contain asbestos as impurities. Vermiculite that comes with a lot of dust is likely to contain asbestos. It’s recommended that you get your vermiculite tested if it dates from before 1990 because it might contain amphibole asbestos, which includes the most dangerous kind: crocidolite (blue asbestos). Ours probably does date from before then. Maybe.

I panicked a bit, and got on the internet looking for someone to test the vermiculite. I went to one website, and a chat window appeared with a message asking how they could help. This took me by surprise. I replied, and he said they could test it for £30 if I sent them a sample. Apparently, it’s ok to post double-bagged vermiculite through the post. But it’s not ok to post asbestos this way.

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