When you arrange to have work/repairs completed in your home this issue is commonly overlooked, with most tradespeople simply complete repairs without even thinking about this issue.
So if you are planning on having any building work carried out, such as emergency repairs to a ceiling, fixing shelving to a wall that involves drilling or having decorating completed where sand walls or ceilings is involved. In fact, anything that will disturb the textured surface in any way, you should know if it contains asbestos first.
First, A bit of a history lesson….
The use of chrysotile asbestos (or white asbestos) in the manufacturing of Artex during the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s was very popular, mainly because it was cheap, durable and strong. In the 70’s manufacturers were moving away from the use of asbestos and so from that date, both were commonly used in many domestic properties, making it impossible to know for sure if the Artex being used contained asbestos. The quantity of asbestos used in Artex was relatively low and should have been around 1-2%. However, it has been recently confirmed by the HSE that some manufacturers have exceeded this and as much 3.8% asbestos was used in the manufacture of trade use Artex.
As you can see Artex can contain a very small amount of asbestos and when it has fully dried the asbestos fibres are locked in and are well bonded. The only risk to health is when the fibres are subsequently released due to damage or when the materials are being cut, drilled or sanded.
Luckily this issue was addressed when the use of asbestos in Artex was banned in 1999, meaning that any new buildings or refurbishments completed after this date should be free from asbestos. The only real way to be 100% sure if asbestos is present today is to have the Artex tested and so if you are planning to have construction or maintenance work done carried out where Artex is likely to be disturbed, you should have a “Refurbishment and Demolition Asbestos Survey” carried out prior to any work starting.
Working with Artex
In the majority of cases, Artex can be removed from properties without the need to engage specialised removal contractors as this work is ‘non-licensed work’, HOWEVER, you are strongly advised not to carry out any work on asbestos unless you have had the appropriate training, even for non-licensed asbestos work.
If you do decide to proceed with small amounts of non-licensed work yourself, you need to make sure that the work is carried out under very strict conditions, as asbestos is a high-risk material and special safety measures - such as damping down work area’s and materials and wearing suitable PPE will be required, which most individuals will not have to hand.
You will also need to have ensured that the work area is appropriately cleaned and disposal of asbestos waste is carried out correctly.
If the removal of Aretex will also result in the release of a high amount of fibre there is a legal requirement to notify work with asbestos to the relevant enforcing authority, in the form of a ‘notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW)’ notice and ‘Artex removal method statement’. If the Artex coating covers other asbestos materials, like asbestos insulating board (AIB) then a licensed contractor will be needed.
The HSE published a number of asbestos task sheets online which will give you all the support and information you need to guide you through any requirements, there are also guides that should be followed to minimise the risk to yourself and other people. Licensed asbestos work is a significantly hazardous job needing additional precautions including enclosures, specialist respiratory protective equipment (RPE), monitoring, supervision, medical surveillance and should only be carried out by licensed contractors.
What does the law say?
Although the use of asbestos in Artex was banned, the law governing this doesn't say it must be removed - It does say it must be managed and that when it is removed it must be removed in a highly controlled way and because asbestos is such a high-risk material, has it's removed in accordance with The Control of Asbestos Regulations
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 - PART 2 General requirements;
• Regulation 4 - Duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises
• Regulation 5 - Identification of the presence of asbestos
• Regulation 6 - Assessment of work which exposes employees to asbestos
• Regulation 7 - Plans of work
• Regulation 8 - Licensing of work with asbestos
• Regulation 9 - Notification of work with asbestos
• Regulation 10 - Information, instruction and training
• Regulation 11 - Prevention or reduction of exposure to asbestos
• Regulation 12 - Use of control measures etc
• Regulation 13 - Maintenance of control measures etc
• Regulation 14 - Provision and cleaning of protective clothing
• Regulation 15 - Arrangements to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies
• Regulation 16 - Duty to prevent or reduce the spread of asbestos
• Regulation 17 - Cleanliness of premises and plant
• Regulation 18 - Designated areas
• Regulation 19 - Air monitoring
• Regulation 20 - Standards for air testing and site clearance certification
• Regulation 21 - Standards for analysis
• Regulation 22 - Health records and medical surveillance
• Regulation 23 - Washing and changing facilities
• Regulation 24 - Storage, distribution and labelling of raw asbestos and asbestos waste
Remember, there is no increased risk to your health as long as Artex is in good condition. If you are planning building work, or want to get your Artex ceiling removed, you can get advice from an environmental health office, the HSE or asbestos specialists in order to safely plan the work and prevent accidental asbestos exposure.
Asbestos related cancers and diseases can take years to develop, but when they do develop they are often fatal and there is no cure.
So stay safe...... be asbestos aware.