Asbestos spray coatings and problems with its removal

In this blog, we’ll examine asbestos spray coatings and some of the problems you can face when it is being removed.

Asbestos spray coatings were phased out in the mid-1970s, so it’s old now and deteriorating.

They have a very high asbestos content. It was mixed with Portland cement binder, to stick asbestos fibres together. It was up to 85% pure asbestos and you can clearly see the fibres.

In our industry it’s one of the worst materials to come across because it has a low density and is soft and will release asbestos fibres very easily for minimal disturbance in its raw state.

Where were asbestos spray coatings used?

Predominately, it was used in fire protection to beams and on ceilings and it was even sprayed onto asbestos in factories and warehouses. It was used a lot in factories as it provided fire protection and sound proofing. Theatres also used it on their ceilings and structural elements. You may also find the ceiling and beams of car parks are sprayed with asbestos when they have apartments or hotels above them.

How were asbestos spray coatings applied?

The application was a horrible process. At the time the workers did not wear PPE and used a larger sprayer. It was a very messy job as the spray would not just be hitting the elements it was aimed at – it would contaminate the surrounding walls, floors, windows and cavities.

Is it difficult to remove?

Spray coating is one of the worst products to remove and manage because it gets into everything and has a high asbestos content and can be easily damaged.

How are asbestos spray coatings removed?

This work always needs to be done by a licensed contractor. The contractor uses an injection suppression method to remove it. The injection needle saturates the spray coating all the way down to the surface level.

Once the removal takes place, the whole material will be removed wet. If you come across a section that is dry, the asbestos fibre count will be high.

At the same time, you have to be careful this process doesn’t create an asbestos slurry. You really do need an experienced removal team who have done spray coating before to manage this properly as it can go wrong very quickly and very badly. Even the enclosure construction needs to be much more rigorous.

The removal team need to consider the structure of the building, the structure of the surface that the asbestos has been applied to and the end goal of the client. By this we mean what is the client going to be able to do in the area following the asbestos removal because we cannot guarantee it will be 100% clean. Sometimes, there will be areas of the building you cannot guarantee are 100% clean without demolition work.

There is a difference between scraping a flat smooth concrete surface where the sprayed insulation comes off like a dream versus a pitted concrete with loads of gaps in it and the spray has gone everywhere. These things need to be considered because the difference between the time frames of these projects and their costs are huge.

If you spray the coating with encapsulant paint this can bring the spray coating down because of the extra weight on it. Imagine employing a contractor to encapsulate a ceiling for you, they do that for you, walk away and then a couple of weeks later it falls down. What would that do to your business? You need to have these considerations.

In summary

It is only when you are completely demolishing a building, and you can remove every element of the building, that you can guarantee you have removed it all. If you are refurbing a building you are not going to want to go as far as this.

You need to remember the key discussion points:

  • What is the end goal?
  • What does the client want?
  • The cost of removal versus the cost of refurbishment and a lifetime of managing the material
  • Does the removal project meet their requirements for their building use at the time?
  • How long are they planning to use that building for?

If your asbestos spray coating is deteriorating, you need to get it under control and managed.

The key thing is to get people on board who know exactly what they are doing with spray coating.

We’re a professional asbestos consultancy helping businesses deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos testing, and asbestos removal. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation

If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or email [email protected]

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

Non licensed contractor

What you need to know about non-licensed asbestos contractors?

We recently had a query from one of our clients that we wanted to share with you in this blog. They are a contractor working in the commercial and retail sectors and occasionally they have to remove bolts from floors which may contain asbestos. Their query was about wearing the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) and RPE (respiratory protective equipment) to carry out the work safely. …

Read MoreWhat you need to know about non-licensed asbestos contractors?

Asbestos Emergencies

Asbestos emergencies – what to do?

In this blog we will discuss asbestos and emergency situations. We will look at what can go wrong, who can be affected and how to control and minimise risks from those situations. Who is at risk? To begin with we need to consider who is at risk of coming into contact with asbestos. It comes down to a list of people …

Read MoreAsbestos emergencies – what to do?

Asbestos Insulating Board

Asbestos insulating boards and the problems with their removal

Asbestos insulating boards are boards that have a high asbestos content usually containing Amosite (Brown) and can also contain Chrysotile (White) asbestos. When you look at an unpainted board you can see the asbestos fibres. The boards can be easily damaged and can easily release asbestos fibres. They tend to be off white or grey …

Read MoreAsbestos insulating boards and the problems with their removal

What does asbestos look like

What is asbestos?

This is a question we get asked a lot. But, for the purposes of this blog, we think it is worth exploring what asbestos isn’t. Firstly, there is a big misconception that asbestos is man-made, but that’s not the case. The shortest and easiest way to describe asbestos is that it is a mineral which …

Read MoreWhat is asbestos?

Asbestos Removal in hot conditions

Life-Changing issues surrounding asbestos removal in hot conditions

Working with asbestos brings many complications and there are many risks which need to be assessed and actions are taken to reduce those risks. However, asbestos removal in hot conditions can pose a significate risk to the health of the workers involved. Examples of asbestos removal in hot conditions Asbestos removal quite often happens in …

Read MoreLife-Changing issues surrounding asbestos removal in hot conditions

Asbestos awareness training (2)

Don’t forget your legal duty to provide asbestos awareness training

Asbestos awareness training enables workers who are likely to come into contact with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) to recognise and avoid disturbing them. In doing so, they protect their own health and safety, as well as that of their co-workers and people nearby. This type of training is particularly important for tradespeople and construction-related workers, including …

Read MoreDon’t forget your legal duty to provide asbestos awareness training

Asbestos Emergency

6 Actions To Take In An Asbestos Emergency

When you’re caught up in an asbestos emergency it can be difficult to think clearly and react appropriately to minimise your own exposure, and that of those around you. Asbestos is a carcinogenic material and has the potential to cause life-threatening disease, so what should you do in the event of an asbestos emergency? If …

Read More6 Actions To Take In An Asbestos Emergency

DSCF0564 e1431533668372

How dangerous is asbestos?

Asbestos continues to cause serious health concerns even though the substance was banned in the UK in 1999. Originally used for fireproofing and insulating, and typically encased in concrete and other building materials, it’s been the subject of controversy for decades. So exactly how dangerous is asbestos, and why is there such a risk associated …

Read MoreHow dangerous is asbestos?

Acorn Square Service 1

What are the 6 Main Types of Asbestos and how were they used?

Asbestos is a collection of naturally occurring minerals extensively used in construction, shipbuilding, and other industries from the 1950s until the 1980s. There are 6 main types of asbestos, which can be categorised into the Serpentine and Amphibole families. The fibres of Serpentine asbestos are softer and more flexible when compared with the Amphibole family, …

Read MoreWhat are the 6 Main Types of Asbestos and how were they used?

Asbestos Awareness Training Session image

What makes asbestos awareness training so crucial?

The considerable harm that the once widely used construction and insulation material known as asbestos can cause is thankfully now widely known. So with that in mind, what role does asbestos awareness training play, who could benefit from it, and how could they benefit from it? Asbestos awareness training is relevant and useful to a …

Read MoreWhat makes asbestos awareness training so crucial?