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After removing the brick liner for cleaning, I found a rectangle of white insulation behind the center liner panel. The manual says removal of the panel and vacuuming behind it are part of annual maintenance. Is it possible that the insulation is asbestos? See attached photos.

Corner close-up In original position

  • I doubt it is asbestos, but you can take a sample and have it tested. – Jim Stewart Dec 31 '16 at 0:35
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It doesn't look like asbestos; it also does not seem likely that a stove manufactured that recently would incorporate asbestos in a "user serviceable" area. Problem is that some countries still do not regulate asbestos. The only way to know for sure is to ask the maker or have it analyzed at a lab.

It does look like it could be refractory ceramic fiber (RCF) wool, which is also used as insulating material and is a suspected carcinogen when airborne particles are inhaled. I think it's mostly a problem with chronic industrial exposure in the workplace, and is not an issue unless/until it has been "fired" above certain temperatures.

  • See if you can contact the manufacturer. – Jim Stewart Dec 31 '16 at 1:06
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    That is ceramic wool blanket and not asbestos. Asbestos was banned in the USA in the early 1970's If you need to handle it, I would use work gloves and a respirator, not those Paper dust type respirators. Also, handle very carefully since it is very fragile and fairly expensive. – d.george Dec 31 '16 at 11:20
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Vanishingly unlikely because of the legal situation with asbestos. There's a whole cottage industry of lawyers who sue factories or mines that worked with asbestos. American TV is spammed with mesothelioma commercials, and that's the most expensive word on Google Adwords. Asbestos is legal kryptonite.

Being a "manufacturer" who imports such a thing... being a retailer who sells such a thing... instant financial suicide for the company. So extreme the Board of Directors could be sued personally by the stockholders for their losses.

That said, any sort of mineral wool material from rockwool to fiberglass has some risk of having the same effect on the human body as asbestos did, via the same mechanism. So it should be treated with respect, and eliminated from the design if practicable.

  • The mechanism of toxicity for asbestos is very different from fiberglass. Fiberglass is listed as a respiratory irritant whereas asbestos is a known carcinogen. Being a natural, geological material, some surmise that natural occurring radioactivity coupled with the long residence time within a lung plays an important part in damaging an alveola's DNA. Others think that the tubular atomic structure of asbestos can damage cells in some unique way. Fiberglass carries no such risks. – Knob Scratcher Dec 31 '16 at 18:46
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Asbestos can be differentiated from rock wool and fiberglass with a jewelers loupe. Man-made fibers are generally uniform in dimension, color, and lustre. When viewed through a loupe these fibers will generally look like shiny, translucent hair, brittle enough to break when bent with tweezers; like glass.

Asbestos fibers, on the other hand, are not individual fibers (like fiberglass) but bundles of fibers that can pulled apart into smaller and smaller bundles of fibers until they are only visible through a microscope. Asbestos is not a glass, but, at the molecular level, a tubular crystalline arrangement of atoms. Through a loupe, asbestos "fibers" will look varied in size from thick as a pencil lead to barely visible wisps.

As others above have noted, it's not likely to be asbestos. However, asbestos is still found in many important applications for which there is no substitute, automobile brake shoes, for one.

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That is almost certainly some from of ceramic wool insulation, not asbestos.

Not wise to make a lot of dust and breathe it, but not asbestos at all.

Kaowool is one brand name, Superwool is another. Look at a ceramics supplier if you want more general information about the stuff. Comes in various grades from rockwool at about 1900F rated to some that will go to 2700F.

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