Asbestos insulation ID help

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Old 07-20-14, 10:29 AM
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Asbestos insulation ID help

Hi everyone,
Does it look like this insulation may contain asbestos? It is only in a couple of small areas in my living room that I am renovating. In photo 1, it is visible from floor to ceiling in a narrow space on the left side of the image and in the far upper right (behind the lath).

The age of the house doesn't provide any clues because it is was built before 1900 and has been updated occasionally through the years.

Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 01:41 PM
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Looks like cellulose to me.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 02:21 PM
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There is absolutely no way to tell by merely looking if anything contains asbestos. The only way to be certain is to have a laboratory analysis.

BUT, the rule is that if you THINK it might contain asbestos then it must be handled as if it does contain asbestos until proven (by lab analysis) to NOT contain asbestos. That means that since you have expressed a thought that it MIGHT contain asbestos you really need to have it analyzed to prove it benign.

All that stated, it does appear to be cellulose but I am absolutely not stating it does not contain asbestos.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 02:24 PM
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There is a very very slim chance that there is any asbestos in your insulation. Personally I would not even give it a 2nd thought. But paranoia is the sort of thing that keeps people up at night. So the only real way for anyone to know if there is asbestos in it is to send a sample in and pay for the testing. That will settle the issue once and for all and then you can have some peace of mind.

Otherwise your imagination will run wild and every time you cough you will blame it on something in the house. We see this sort of question all the time, and that is the best kind of answer we can give. In the industry, when a material is suspected to contain asbestos, it must be treated as if it is. You send it to a lab to test it and verify if it IS or ISN'T. Asbestos is not usually something you can identify within a product based on sight.

Its potential for harm is completely overblown, IMO. But its big business. If you worked in a brake pad factory every day for 40 years, that's probably a different story.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 02:44 PM
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Thanks for sharing your opinions, folks. I am new to home repair so I don't know if my worry is well founded or not. My only evidence is that it is an old house and there is loose insulation. Those are the only facts I know. I'll get it tested to make sure though.

I don't know what it means that it is only in a few small areas between studs. Any chance it could have been put there because of old wiring that ran in those spaces? As a type of insulation around the wiring or would that have been unheard of many years ago?
 
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Old 07-20-14, 02:50 PM
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I would suspect that it's only there because it fell down some of the walls when the attic was topped off. In old houses with balloon framing, many of the stud bays go all the way up to the attic with no top plates or fire blocking. Most houses of that era didn't have insulation in the walls at all... and insulation in the attic was added later as people became a little more energy conscious. Otherwise in the olden days they just put another log on the fire when they got cold.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 03:07 PM
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I agree with X. Most definitely it was NOT placed there to offer any insulative qualities to any wiring.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 04:04 PM
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That all makes good sense. There is some cellulose in the attic and it is a clear path from attic to first floor walls. Thanks again for sharing your expertise. I'm sure this is just the first of many questions I'll have throughout this project!
 
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Old 07-21-14, 04:27 PM
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You should think about adding some fire block now that you have the walls open and you have balloon framing. That will also help prevent air flow from the basement to the attic.
 
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