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Asbestos Artex Removal

Asbestos Artex Removal is a service provided for home and business owners across the UK. Artex is a trade name commonly used to describe textured decorative wall coatings. It is typically found on walls and ceilings and may have various patterned effects including stippling, swirls, patterns or a smooth surface. It was popular from the 1960’s onward and particularly prevalent in the 70’s and 80’s. For many years, Artex was manufactured using chrysotile (white) asbestos cement mineral fibres which is sometimes called ‘white’ asbestos. Artex is still sold today although it no longer contains asbestos. Some estimates are that around 50% of UK households have asbestos containing wall coverings within them.

Artex was manufactured using asbestos to strengthen the mix and add some additional properties to the coating. Although textured wall coatings are less popular today, older ceilings may still contain white asbestos fibres which are potentially hazardous to health. It is therefore very important that homeowners check to ensure that the Artex on their ceilings does not contain the product before they attempt to remove or scrape it.


Asbestos Artex Removal

An example of Artex containing asbestos, used as a decorative textured wall coating

How do I tell if wall coatings contain asbestos?

The only way to know for certain if a textured wall coating contains asbestos is to arrange for an asbestos sample to be taken and tested by a laboratory. We recommend that two samples are taken, as occasionally the product wasn’t mixed thoroughly before being applied, and the spread of asbestos can be irregular.

There may be cases where the textured decorative coating was made without asbestos minerals. Taking a sample will confirm this as well as which type of mineral it contains (some such as amosite are more dangerous than others).

Never drill, scrape or sand textured coatings unless you are absolutely certain no asbestos is present.

How is the asbestos in Artex disturbed?

Asbestos in Artex textured coatings is disturbed when any activity which can damage the material is carried out, such as drilling, hammering, carrying our refurbishment works or replastering. You should not scrape or sand a stippled coating to ‘skim’ over it with plaster unless you are carrying out the activity in a controlled manner following HSE guidelines as this may result in asbestos fibres becoming airborne.

Artex may also be disturbed if their is a floor damage such as a water leak in a loft area or roof. This may make the ceiling unstable and more liable to cracking.

How much chrysotile asbestos is contained in Artex textured wall or ceiling coverings?

There were two types of Artex containing asbestos sold – a ‘trade’ and ‘retail’ version. The final asbestos content can vary and the HSE say:

“Typically the dry powdered mix for trade use Artex contained about 3.8% w/w of chrysotile asbestos and the ready mixed DIY product (known as W14) contained somewhat less – 1.8% – and an emulsion binder. According to the manufacturer asbestos was added only to promote the dewatering and curing of the product, but the asbestos fibres will have a reinforcing effect on the matrix.” (HSE Watch Committee Paper – WATCH/2006 /1).

Safe, professional Asbestos Artex Removal

Although the removal of asbestos containing textured coatings is classed as non-licensed work, steps must be taken “to prevent or reduce the spread of asbestos” under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR). In addition, CAR states that the work should “only be carried out by trained and competent staff, using appropriate control measures.”

Removing Artex can create a lot of dust and debris which in turn may contain asbestos fibres. Asbestos fibres are not visible to the naked eye but can be damaging to human health if inhaled or ingested and can lead to fatal lung diseases or cancers such as mesothelioma. Removal of textured decorative coatings is best carried out by a HSE licensed asbestos removal contractor who will have the knowledge, skills and specialist equipment required to carry out the work safely and effectively. HSE contractors also carry specialist insurance to cover working with asbestos.

AAS Ltd ensure that the area is correctly protected with polythene sheeting (such as windows, cupboard, sink, floor, wall) and all dust residue is removed. Removal always takes place under controlled conditions using a negative pressure unit and includes the construction of a temporary airlock. The area is cleaned using HVAC vacuum cleaners. Background air testing for reassurance and reoccupation can also be provided on request from the customer.

What is a Negative Pressure Unit (NPU)?

An NPU is a specialist piece of equipment used by HSE licensed asbestos removal contractors to produce a negative pressure environment (vacuum) in an area to prevent the egress of asbestos fibres into the outside area. At the same time, any fibres which may be released during the removal process are caught in a special HEPA filter.

You should make sure that any company removing textured decorative wall coatings from your property use this equipment as a failure to do so may result in asbestos contamination spreading throughout your home.

Shopping around for quotations? Please ensure that quotations include the price of removing the coatings under semi-controlled conditions. This means that the removal company should use a negative pressure unit (NPU) to suppress dust and prevent asbestos fibres spreading through the building.