Supalux is the trade name of one type insulating board that was meant to be an asbestos free alternative product to asbestolux.
This sample from a recent project was taken after a section metal cladding fell off to the external wall of a walkway of a block of flats in Yorkshire revealing a Supalux panel and debris. The material had the usual appearance of Supalux with a high Mica content but also contained levels of Amosite. The picture below was taken through the stereo microscope which shows the Mica and the Amosite fibre, which is clearly within the matrix of the material and not from a cross contamination from sampling. The Amosite is located just below the centre to the right of the sample.
The question raised is if Supalux was meant to be an asbestos free alternative to Asbestolux, why does it contain asbestos?
There are two possible explanations as to why, one is during the early production phase it was manufactured alongside the asbestolux line and that that the machinery used to make the boarding was not properly cleaned before being turned over to make the real Supalux which resulted in changeover period of cross contamination.
The second is that one or more products, visually similar to Supalux were imported into the UK that had asbestos intentionally added. Asbestos-mica mixes were used in some productions of insulating board – Amosite is the more commonly found one but there have also been cases of boards containing a mica/Chrysotile mix.
It is often a mis-conception that if a board glitters (i.e. contains Mica) it is Supalux and will invariably be asbestos free. As a result it will either not be sampled or may be sampled just to confirm the negative, however on occasions as demonstrated above these boards do contain asbestos.
Suplaux or mica containing boards (which shine) should be sampled as routine and in the same way and frequency as another other suspect asbestos insulating board.
Don’t fall under the mica shine fallacy – all that glitters is not asbestos free.