Act Now: Uncover the Silent Perils of Asbestos in Fire-Damaged Buildings – A Deep Dive into the Brighton Hotel Incident

Asbestos in fire

The recent fire at the Royal Albion Hotel in Brighton has reignited concerns about asbestos in fire situations. Brighton and Hove City Council confirmed that asbestos was present in the building, specifically within the textured ceiling coatings. Despite the fire, the risk to the public was deemed very low, and the area around the hotel was cordoned off to prevent potential exposure.

As reported on the ITV News website

This incident underscores the need for a deeper understanding of asbestos in fire situations, particularly when it’s used in textured coatings. What exactly is asbestos textured coating? What risks does it pose, especially when it’s in good condition or damaged by fire? Let’s explore this further.

What is Asbestos Textured Coating?

Asbestos textured coating, often known by the brand name “Artex,” is a type of surface coating that was commonly used for interior walls and ceilings in buildings. It was particularly popular from the 1960s through the 1980s and beyond due to its ability to create decorative finishes and its fire-resistant properties.

The coating is a mixture of materials, including a small percentage of asbestos, typically Chrysotile (White) asbestos. The asbestos fibres are mixed into a binder, which hardens to create a textured, durable surface. This coating was often used to create a variety of patterns on ceilings and walls, adding a decorative element to the room.

Asbestos Textured Coating can be found in various locations such as bathroom ceilings, hallway ceilings, and window surrounds.

Risks of Asbestos Textured Coating in Good Condition

When in good condition and left undisturbed, asbestos textured coatings generally pose a minimal risk to health. This is due to the nature of the material and how the asbestos fibres are bound within it.

The asbestos fibres in textured coatings are mixed into a binder, which hardens and forms a solid, semi-durable surface. This process effectively traps the asbestos fibres within the material. As long as the coating remains intact and undisturbed, the asbestos fibres are unlikely to be released into the air. Therefore, the risk of inhaling asbestos fibres, which is the primary route of exposure and cause of asbestos-related diseases, is significantly reduced.

However, it’s important to note that while the risk is low, it is not entirely eliminated. Even in good condition, if the asbestos textured coating is disturbed – for example, during refurbishment or demolition activities – the asbestos fibres can be released. This is why an assessment should be carried out to determine if asbestos is present prior to carrying out any work that could potentially disturb the fabric of the building.

Additionally, while the coating may be in good condition now, it’s important to regularly monitor the condition of any known asbestos-containing materials in your property. Over time, wear and tear, water damage, or other factors could potentially damage the coating and increase the risk of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos In Fire – Increased Risks with Fire Damage

When a building containing asbestos textured coating experiences fire damage, the risks associated with asbestos exposure significantly increase.

Here’s why:

Fire, by its very nature, is a destructive force. It can cause extensive damage to the structure of a building, including the materials used in its construction. When a fire affects a building with asbestos textured coating, the high temperatures and intense conditions can compromise the integrity of the coating. This can lead to the breakdown of the material, potentially releasing the trapped asbestos fibres into the air.

Once these asbestos fibres are released, they become a serious health hazard. Asbestos fibres are microscopic and can easily become airborne. Once in the air, they can be inhaled by individuals in the surrounding areas. This is particularly concerning because asbestos is a known carcinogen. When inhaled, these fibres can become lodged in the lungs, leading to serious health conditions such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, often many years after the initial exposure.

Furthermore, the destruction caused by a fire can also lead to the disturbance of other asbestos-containing materials in the building. This can further increase the amount of asbestos released into the environment.

It’s also important to note that the risk doesn’t end once the fire is extinguished. The cleanup and recovery process can also disturb the asbestos, leading to additional exposure. For instance, if the debris from the fire is not properly handled and disposed of, it can lead to further release of asbestos fibres.

In summary, while asbestos textured coatings in good condition pose minimal risk, fire damage can significantly increase the potential for asbestos exposure. This underscores the importance of proper asbestos management and remediation strategies in the aftermath of a fire.

Risks of Asbestos Fibers Becoming Airborne During a Fire

The risk of asbestos in fire and the fibres becoming airborne significantly increases during a fire, especially in a building with asbestos-containing materials like textured coatings.

Here’s a deeper look into why this happens and the potential consequences:

During a fire, the intense heat and destructive forces can cause the breakdown of asbestos-containing materials. As these materials break down, they can release asbestos fibres into the air. The heat of the fire can cause these fibres to rise and become part of the smoke plume, potentially spreading the fibres over a large area.

The turbulence caused by the fire can also contribute to the spread of asbestos fibres. The strong air currents created by the heat can carry these fibres, further increasing the area of potential contamination. This means that even areas that were not directly affected by the fire could still be at risk of asbestos contamination.

Once asbestos fibres are airborne, they pose a significant health risk. These fibres are small and can remain in the air for a long time, making them easy to inhale. When inhaled, they can become lodged in the lungs and can lead to serious health conditions such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

It’s also important to note that the risk doesn’t end when the fire is extinguished. The debris and dust left behind after a fire can also contain asbestos fibres. If this debris is disturbed, for example during cleanup operations, it can release more fibres into the air.

In conclusion, the risk of fibres becoming airborne is significantly increased during a fire. This highlights the importance of proper safety measures, including wearing appropriate protective equipment and following safe procedures during cleanup and recovery operations. It also underscores the need for professional asbestos assessment and remediation after a fire in a building known to contain asbestos.

Remediation of an Asbestos in Fire-Damaged Building Containing Asbestos Textured Coating

After a fire in a building with asbestos textured coating, a specific remediation process should be followed. First, a thorough risk assessment should be conducted by trained professionals to identify the presence and extent of asbestos contamination. This includes air monitoring to detect any airborne asbestos fibres.

Next, a controlled demolition or repair of the damaged sections should be carried out by licensed contractors. This process should be done in a way that minimises the release of asbestos fibres, often involving the use of specialised equipment and containment strategies.

Finally, a thorough cleaning of the site should be conducted. This includes the removal of asbestos debris and dust, followed by a final air clearance test to ensure that the asbestos in fire risk has been effectively managed.

Get Help With Your Asbestos Problem

At Acorn Analytical Services, we understand the complexities and risks associated with asbestos and asbestos in fire. As a fully independent asbestos consultancy, we’re committed to providing comprehensive, reliable, and professional services to help you navigate the challenges of asbestos management.

Whether you’re dealing with asbestos in fire damaged building, planning a renovation, or simply want to ensure the safety of your property, our team of experts is here to help. We offer a range of services, including asbestos surveys, asbestos removal management, asbestos air monitoring, or full asbestos compliance through the Acorn Asbestos Antidote.

Don’t let the presence of asbestos become a daunting challenge. With our expertise and commitment to safety, we can help you manage asbestos effectively and responsibly.

Ready to take the next step?

Contact us today for a consultation or get a quote. Let’s work together to create a safer environment for everyone.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

The “Invisible” Threat: A Look at Asbestos in Schools and Colleges

Asbestos in schools and Colleges – Are you aware of the unseen, deadly materials that could be lurking in your children’s schools and colleges? If you’re thinking about old textbooks or dated curricula, think again. This issue is far more concerning, and it’s about a material named – asbestos. In this article, we talk about … Read more

Acorn Analytical Services Asbestos Solutions commecial photography 6

Asbestos training – 3 reasons why you need it!

Asbestos training is more than just a formality in the UK. Dive into its life-saving significance, understand the legal requirements, and see why it’s a small investment with immense returns.

mesothelioma image

Mesothelioma Researchers call for help!

Researchers call for help from mesothelioma patients and their families! The Priority Setting Partnership, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, is bringing together people with mesothelioma, their families, carers and the healthcare professionals who treat them to help set priorities for mesothelioma research. A survey has been launched aimed at better understanding the … Read more

logo2

Acorn Analytical Services: Your UKATA Approved Asbestos Awareness Training Provider

Acorn Analytical Services are now UKATA approved! Are you thinking of updating your asbestos awareness training in the New Year? If so we would recommend the course provider you choose is approved by UKATA. Using a UKATA member to provide that training ensures that they have the facilities, knowledge and experience to properly undertake that training. Our … Read more

Leicester Hospital Leads Mesothelioma Treatment Trials

Two new treatments are being tested in the East Midlands for an aggressive cancer caused mainly by exposure to asbestos. The research into mesothelioma is being done at Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital. Mesothelioma most commonly starts in the inner lining of the chest wall causing it to thicken and reduce lung capacity, which in turn puts … Read more

Quote 1

Acorn join the Federation of Small Businesses

Acorn Analytical Services are pleased to announce that we have successfully joined the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). What is the FSB? The FSB is non-profit making and non-party political. The Federation of Small Businesses is the UK’s largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms. Formed … Read more

938308 4da8f9a0 596x300 1

Carlisle Housing Association Admits Asbestos Failings

A housing association in Carlisle has admitted serious failings with regards to asbestos. Riverside Housing has advised they have no idea how many of their properties contain asbestos. Best estimates are around 3,000 which is half of it 6,000 property portfolio. Asbestos was extensively used within the construction industry throughout the UK from the 1930s … Read more

asbestos through a scope

New Asbestos ACOP for Working With Asbestos

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released a consultation document proposing the new Approved Code of Practice (ACOP)  for working with asbestos. It has invited comments and responses (to be received no later than 30 September 2013) as part of a consultative exercise into a proposed consolidated version of its Approved Code of Practice … Read more

cwmcarn

Asbestos removal worker dies in Cwmcarn school

Health and Safety Executive leading investigation after 26-year-old asbestos removal worker dies in Cwmcarn school. A police and health and safety investigation has been launched following the death of an asbestos removal worker at an asbestos-hit school. Paramedics were called to Cwmcarn High, near Newport, on Friday after a 26 year old collapsed. The school … Read more

UKAS Asbestos Surveys

Unlock the Power of UKAS Asbestos Surveys: Your Ultimate Guide

UKAS asbestos surveys are your ultimate tool for a safer environment. This guide explores their importance, the dangers of asbestos, and how to choose the right surveyor. Don’t gamble with your health – commission a UKAS asbestos survey today.