Vintage Gas Grates (c. 1910) - Asbestos? Usable?

Please take a look at these old gas grates: http://tinyurl.com/6h7gm
They're in a house I am fixing up. They were probably installed sometime around 1910. Some of the pictures show the grayish fabric behind the grates - is this stuff asbestos? I'm assuming I will have to get the environmental cleanup guys to diagnose it for sure, but would appreciate opinions.
Would there be any way to install something like a modern gas inserts in these fireplaces, but keep the decorative grilles? At one point these fireplaces burned wood so I am assuming there is some empty space behind the circa 1910 inserts. The chimneys were taken off long ago during various reroofing jobs, but since it's time for a new roof again perhaps new chimneys could be put up.
Thanks!
Sara
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This is Turtle.
If your worried about the Asbestos coming off and getting in the air. You can paint them with high temperature paint to keep the fibres from flying off during operation. The high temp paint should hold up to 2,200F [ BBQ pit paint ] to keep the fibres from coming off.
TURTLE
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com (Sara) wrote in

Are you sure it's asbestos? Could it be panels of mica?
--
Wayne in Phoenix

unmunge as w-e-b
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My grandparents had somthing like this, they were asbestos. When they were removed from the house in the 60's no one knew about the dangers of asbestoes. Grandma and pop lived to be in their 90's.
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Jimmie wrote:

Back in the early 50s, when I was a young teen, we lived in a 2 family house with asbestos siding. We didn't own it so it was basically ignored by the owner, except for major repairs. We had a burning barrel in the back yard and I would throw pieces of broken asbestos siding into the fire and wait for the load bang as they blew apart. I subsequently went into the Navy in 1955 and was a sheetmetal worker on a large ship. I used to cut asbestos insulation off air conditioning ducts in order to install additional ducting. Then mixed up some asbestos slurry and applied to the new ducts. No gloves, no face masks. Who knew?
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wrote:

That's why I'm not driving myself nuts over the possibility that it is asbestos. My family has been living in this house for as long as it's been around, and the one to live there the longest was an auntie who made it to 98. I know loose asbestos is "not a good thing" but at this point it's just one more darned (expensive) problem.
Thanks for your replies! Sara
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