Handling, Working with and Testing Asbestos Artex

Around 25 years ago textured Artex ceilings were the type of interior design feature that Hyacinth Bucket would have bragged to her neighbours about.  However, today most of us can’t wait to get rid of it.  So what’s the easiest way of handling, working with and testing asbestos Artex?

What is Artex?

Artex is a water-based coating which was commonly applied for decorative purposes and mostly on ceilings. Painter, decorators and plasterers developed innovative methods of applying it. They were also highly imaginative in their designs. Swirls, circles even miniature glacier peaks would miraculously appear from their specialist brushes, combs and rollers. It was an extremely popular finish during the 50s right through to the 70s.  Sadly the Artex used during those periods often contained asbestos. If you are considering doing anything with ceilings from that time you must think seriously about testing asbestos Artex.

Why testing asbestos Artex is essential?

If you have just purchased an older property, Artex ceilings may contain asbestos.  You have absolutely no way of knowing unless you test.  You may feel like sanding them down or scraping the textured coating off but you must test it first.  If you disturb it in any way, and it does contain asbestos, you will release deadly fibres into the air. Unless you have a specially designed, filtered mask you may breathe in the fibres. An ordinary DIY painter’s mask or a cloth wrapped around your face isn’t going to stop the fine fibres penetrating.  When fibres get into the respiratory system there’s a good chance that you’ll develop Mesothelioma. But you probably won’t know about this silent killer for at least 20 years, by which time it will be too late.

Mesothelioma, the cancer related to asbestos exposure, mimics many conditions. Unless your doctor knows you have been exposed to asbestos it’s easy to misdiagnose. You may be short of breath in which case your GP might think you have asthma. Maybe you have pain in your lower back or on one side of your chest. Coughing, excessive perspiration, fever, losing weight or being overwhelming tired are other symptoms of the disease. You might also find it difficult to swallow.

How do I know if my ceilings contain asbestos?

Firstly you need to know how long the ceiling has been decorated with the coating. It’s unlikely to contain asbestos if it was applied after 1999. Not that many people would have considered it after 1999 because it had lost its popularity! But since the ban in the UK, no textured coating should contain asbestos.

Bear in mind it isn’t so much the age of the ceiling you need to know but the age of the textured coating. The only way to be certain is by testing asbestos Artex. An asbestos testing kit cost £39.95 and contains all the items you need to take samples. The cost varies in terms of how many rooms you want to test and how many samples you take.

What are the dangers of asbestos Artex?

The material is not so dangerous that you need a license to take samples of it. You won’t need a license to carry out renovation work. However, the type of renovation you do could cause the textured coating to deteriorate or break up. For example, if you intend to steam the Artex off it will cause serious disintegration. For any form of large scale removal it’s advisable to employ a professional, qualified operative. For more detailed information regarding health and safety regulations click on non-licensed work with asbestos

If the Artex is in good condition you could consider placing ceiling boards over it. It’s the least messy and simplest way to hide it.

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