From grandmas old house, can it be a dangerous material like asbestos? She used it as a pin board. Don’t know from when, can be 60s. Inside is soft, I can easily pick a piece with my fingers, outside is painted white. Will be glad if someone knows!

Overview image: pin board on the wall

Detail of the edge: detail of the edge

  • 1
    So the painted part is stiff or does it bend? Can you provide a more zoomed out picture? Knowing if this is on a ceiling, on a wall, inside a closet could help to narrow things down.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 17:31
  • 3
    The only way to know is to take a small sample and have it tested. Asbestos is usually only dangerous is you disturb it by something like sanding.
    – crip659
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 17:31
  • Here is a zoomed out and zoomed in picture, it was hanging on her desk, it’s just on the wall a small sized piece. imgur.com/a/4ufCJ8n Where I am, testing is more than 100euros
    – Mashouse
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 17:45
  • easy way to test w/o cost or waiting: pull off a small peice and see if it burns.
    – dandavis
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 19:30
  • "testing is more than 100euros" which tells me you're mildly concerned because you've heard "bad things", but really don't care all that much in the long run, but asking about it seems to be the Right Thing To Do™. The likelihood of a single exposure causing any serious or lasting harm is quite rather small. Not zero, but very small. Do with it as you wish...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 0:32

3 Answers 3


From the close up look at the edge and the texture of the surface, it is highly likely that this is simply pressed fiber board. It's sturdy enough to hold up over time, but soft enough to hold a pin or thumb tack. We had this kind of thing in my college dorm room, too.

It's unlikely to have asbestos in it, but the only way to know for sure is to have a sample of it tested by a lab. Nobody can tell simply by looking at it if it contains asbestos.

It's hard to tell, even from a zoomed in view, if that's held on the wall with some sort of screw or if that's a nail. In either case, I'm sure you could gently remove it from the wall, put the whole thing in a plastic bag (if you're really worried about asbestos, wear a mask), tape the bag shut and toss it in the garbage.

Or, if it's a good reminder of grandma, paint the edges to ensure none of the brown material flies away, and keep it on the wall to hold up pictures or reminders for years to come.


No way to tell if it's asbestos without having it tested at a lab. A technician has to count the fibers amongst other things which you are not qualified to do.

If you find it useful then paint the edges so that fibers don't fly in the air when disturbed.

If you wish to remove it then just remove it. If it is asbestos then the exposure is very unlikely to affect your health in such a tiny dose.

If you wish to be absolutely safe then soak the back of it with water and wear a respirator when removing it from the wall.


For a one-off minimal exposure it's most likely no issue whatsoever: if in doubt, just remove it. Leaving it there if it is asbestos is more hazardous than removing it carefully.

The exposure is not a one-off toxic hazard for such a small panel. But formally, yes you'd have to get it tested and then removed professionally.

See also https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/asbestos/home.html

Asbestos exposure is an occupational hazard: if you hire professionals they come in full protective gear. Exposures of 10+ years are problematic, and in some rare cases 1..12 months. This is why drywall workers or demolition works require testing.

To do it yourself carefully, you can place a fan at a window to blow outwards, cover the floor, mist the panel with water, wear a HEPA mask and remove it carefully. You can even apply a wide painters or packaging tape over the exposed edges in stead of misting, and fold the tape over as you remove the panel. Move the panel directly into a garbage bag. Vacuum and ventilate afterwards, and dispose of the vacuum bag.

All this together is likely overkill.

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