What is Asbestos Pipe Insulation and Lagging?

Asbestos pipe insulation and lagging can be one of the most dangerous forms of asbestos, but it’s also one of the easiest types to identify. This form of asbestos is usually wrapped around piping and can be unmistakeable once you know what you’re looking for.

However, it can sometimes be in poor condition. This is what makes it dangerous, as the asbestos may already be disturbed, causing the dangerous microscopic fibres to be released into the air.

Therefore, we’d advise you not approach it. Instead, contact certified asbestos experts for advice instead. 

What does Asbestos Pipe Insulation and Lagging look like?

The appearance of asbestos on pipes and lagging can vary. It was used extensively to insulate pipework and protect it from cold / heat.

It can often appear fluffy or smooth. Or it could look like lumpy dried cement or even a build-up of dust. If you notice anything like this on pipes or lagging, call a specialist and don’t interact with it yourself. Asbestos insulation can also appear like paper, card or even felt.

It’s most dangerous when frayed or damaged, as the dangerous microscopic fibres may have been released into the air. They could still be there and in the surrounding area. If this is the case, then do not approach it, instead call the experts for removal. 

When was Asbestos Pipe Insulation and Lagging used?

As of the year 2000, asbestos has been declared illegal, so it has not been used as lagging or insulation since. However, in the 20th century, it was used extensively. This includes during the 1970s, a period in which many UK homes were constructed.

Over the 1980s, the use of asbestos diminished as more details came to light about the dangers it posed. However, a large amount of asbestos still exists in buildings up and down the country. It also still remains in both commercial buildings and homes. 

Why was Asbestos Pipe Insulation and Lagging used?

Asbestos has been used in many construction projects throughout the UK and in a variety of different ways. Something that makes it difficult to eradicate completely.

Asbestos was often called a ‘magic material’ by many in the construction trade. Due to this it was used in high quantities. Of course, this was before the health risks were discovered.

Asbestos can be a highly effective insulation material. This is why it was used on pipes and similar things—it kept them dry and in good condition for longer periods of time. It was also affordable and easy to use.  

How to take a sample of asbestos pipe lagging / insulation

Our asbestos testing kit comes with full instructions and personal protective equipment. This way, you’ll be able to take a sample safely and easily. But if you need some support or would like us to walk you through the process, we’d be happy to do so.

Once your sample has been retrieved, you can send it to us for testing. We’ll aim to test it on the same day we receive it, to not keep you waiting. We’ll contact you soon after with the results.

If your sample tests positive for asbestos, we’ll advise you of what your next steps should be. Of course, what you do next is your choice, but we’ll make sure you know how to arrange for the safe removal of the asbestos.

Lagging and insulation that is already in poor condition – and clearly does contain asbestos, should not be approached. Instead, removal should be arranged. In this situation, a testing kit may not be required.  

Is Asbestos Pipe Insulation and Lagging dangerous?

Asbestos is only dangerous when the material is disturbed. If the material is visibly frayed or patchy, this could mean it has been. Therefore, we’d suggest you avoid it at all costs.

If not, the dangerous particles can be inhaled. If this happens, it can cause a variety of nasty respiratory disorders over time. This includes cancer of the lungs.

Insulating and lagging on pipes that is in good condition and undisturbed poses little risk. If your pipes are still in good condition, but you suspect they are covered in asbestos insulation, you can use one of our asbestos test kits to find out for sure. 

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The content on this page/article was last updated on the 5th December 2023 by our team and was reviewed and fact checked by William Wright, DipNEBOSH on the 5th December 2023.

William is a qualified health & safety consultant who holds NEBOSH & IOSH certifications.

Asbestos Testing Kits

Test suspect materials yourself using our testing kits only £49.95

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