What Is Asbestos AIB? header image

28th December, 2018

What Is Asbestos AIB?

AIB stands for Asbestos Insulating Board. But what is asbestos insulating board, is it dangerous, and where do you find it?

Asbestos insulating board was used for insulating against fire, heat, and sound. So you will often find it in walls, ceilings, fire doors and partitions.

AIB will usually contain amosite (brown) asbestos and chrysotile (white) asbestos. It was used heavily in the 1960s and 1970s and is often found in buildings built or refurbished in that timeframe.

Do you know about blue, white and brown asbestos? Find out more about the different types and colours of asbestos.

Is AIB dangerous?

Yes, AIB is dangerous. Asbestos is one of constructions biggest killers. It can lead to a slow and painful death years after exposure.

AIB can contain a high quantity of asbestos - up to 45%! It is often found in places where it can be easily disturbed, for example in partition walls and ceiling tiles. It is easy to see how regular maintenance work might disturb these boards. For example, replacing a light fixture, or installing a shelf.

Once an asbestos material is disturbed, deadly asbestos fibres are released. When inhaled, asbestos fibres can get stuck in your lungs, causing fatal lung diseases.

asbestos fibres small

Download the free asbestos awareness toolbox talk to let your team know about the dangers of asbestos.

According to the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA), the asbestos content of AIB is usually 20-45%. That's around double the asbestos content found in asbestos cement.

Asbestos is a very dangerous material. So dangerous, it has its own regulations and has been banned from use since 1999.

Although it is now banned, because asbestos was used a lot in the past, it is still present in many buildings. Thousands of people still die each year in the UK due to asbestos exposure.

Where do you find AIB?

You can find asbestos insulating board (AIB) in a wide variety of places. In homes, offices, schools, hospitals and other types of building.

Some common places you can find AIB are:

  • partition walls
  • fireproofing panels in fire doors
  • lift shaft linings
  • ceiling tiles
  • ceiling panels
  • infill panels
  • soffits
  • panels below windows
  • under window boards
  • uplifts to roof lights
  • ducts
  • bath panels

AIB was a popular product in the past because of its insulating properties, so many buildings contain it. In buildings where AIB was used, it can often be found in multiple places.

What does AIB look like?

AIB are panels or boards. They don't really look any different to other panels and boards used in construction. They might be painted, or hidden behind other materials, so they are not easy to spot.

Just because AIB can contain brown asbestos, doesn't mean it is brown in colour. The asbestos content doesn't affect the appearance of the panel. It will usually look just like any other panel used for a partition or ceiling.

aib wall partition

This partition wall was found to contain AIB during an asbestos survey. AIB was used in partition walls to provide sound and heat insulation, and fire protection.

aib roof light panels

The uplift panels to this roof light are also AIB, closing the ceiling void.

aib bulkhead

This bulkhead is protected and clad with AIB panels. It had also previously been drilled into to install cables, releasing deadly asbestos fibres.

Looking at the images above, you might be thinking, that looks like plasterboard. And indeed, it does. It's hard to tell AIB from other safe materials, just by looking at it.

How do you identify AIB?

So, if you can't tell which boards contain asbestos, how do you identify AIB? To know what you're dealing with, you need an asbestos survey.

Asbestos fibres are so small, you can't see them with your eyes. The only way to accurately know if a material contains asbestos is through analysis at a laboratory.

There are legal requirements to have an asbestos survey, and there are two types of survey:

  • Management Asbestos Survey
  • Refurbishment and Demolition Survey

You can find out more about the two types of asbestos survey in our asbestos surveys blog post.

AIB is one of the most common types of asbestos-containing material (ACM) found on asbestos surveys. Make sure you carry out the necessary checks for disturbing materials in any building or structure.

Download the free asbestos surveys toolbox talk to raise awareness of the types of asbestos survey you need.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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