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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2021 11:34 pm 
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I was doing some reading recently and discovered before the full ban of white (chrysotile) asbestos in 1999, and the ban of blue (crocidolite), brown (amosite) asbestos in 1985 the substance was often used within wires to insulate them.

Does anyone know which type was used to insulate wires and how likely it is to be in street lighting fixtures dating from before the bans, and whether or not its a serious risk?

I'm quite paranoid about the subject as someone who has two lights of my own dating from 1992 and 1982.
(Philips MI26 & Thorn Beta 5)

Any info would be appreciated and feel free to discuss the subject below.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2021 9:37 am 
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You really don't need to worry about this for lanterns that are post 1970. White asbestos was used, but never in Philips lanterns, especially your Mi26. Your Beta 5 should also be safe.

This image is what you need to avoid.

Image

But not to be confused with the sleeving shown here, which is fibre glass and perfectly safe - although could cause skin irritation.

Image

The danger is from inhaling fibres, but in wiring insulation its usually tightly woven.

Fibre glass will be in the form of a (removeable) sleeve, or occasionally as the main insulation (aircraft wiring can use a similar material), asbestos will always be in the form of the main insulation, never in in the form of a removeable over sleeve.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2021 9:16 pm 
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I would concur with Phosco152 and his reassuring views on Asbestos in streetlighting equipment.

When local authorities mention about 'noxious chemicals' in old street lanterns (as a reason not to pass any to collectors), there is a risk of certain materials which could give rise to health concerns. Asbestos is one, whilst PCBs in old capacitors is another 'nasty'.

I would imagine that most collectors will have early lanterns by Eleco, GEC etc (I have a few). These lanterns commonly used lampholder 'tails' which were insulated by woven asbestos.

As is always the case, the main area of concern is when the wire is flexed or disturbed (this can cause tiny particles to be released). If your lanterns are out in the open air, the risk could be perceived to be minimal, but best not to get too close with your nose.

Obviously, the fact that your own lanterns will have been wired using PVC / or silicon covered wire, means there will be no risk of you coming into contact with asbestos.

On an separate note, I have seen examples where the 'worry' has made people rewire the lanterns with modern wire (and dispose of the old asbestos material). I've no problem with doing this, however it is a shame when a vintage lantern is rewired using modern PVC wire (in modern colours).

On those lanterns I have rewired, I have used a silicon / fibeglass type wire (as used in bakery ovens). As well as being perfect electrically, it is easy on the hands (minimal itching) and does not contain asbestos. A final bonus is that it looks just like the old stuff.

If anyone is interested, please feel free to PM me.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 7:59 pm 
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Yep. In my experience, lanterns from the 1950s and early 1960s could have white asbestos in them, for the heat-proof insulation on the wiring and gaskets. Lanterns manufactured in the 1970s that still contained asbestos tended to be quite old designs rather than relatively new products. Some lanterns have glass-fibre insulated wiring which can be similar in appearance.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2021 4:53 pm 
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sotonsteve wrote:
Some lanterns have glass-fibre insulated wiring which can be similar in appearance.


Yes, I can agree with you on that. I have a couple of late Simplex Diadems which have the sleeving on. Safety aside, I still think that if you are going to rewire an old street lantern (1950-60s), it always looks better with woven fibreglass wire, rather than PVC in modern colours.

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L.S. Lowry. 1887-1976.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 10:26 pm 
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Thank you for all your information, I appreciate it a lot.


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