03/22/2006

New research confirms low risk of exposure from asbestos containing textured coatings

New research on asbestos confirms that risks from asbestos containing textured
coatings (TCs) are much lower than previously thought. The new research
published today supports the proposal that work with textured coatings will no
longer require a licence.

The British Health and Safety Commission's (HSC) draft amendments to asbestos
regulations, which have recently been the subject of consultation, aim to
tighten overall controls. The proposed changes include a lower single control
limit of 0.1 fibres per cm3 for work with all types of asbestos.

Textured coatings contain only small amounts of asbestos and this is bound in a
matrix that does not readily release asbestos fibres when removed. In response
to early comments received during consultation, the Health and Safety Executive
(HSE) commissioned the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) to carry out further
research into work with TCs.

Kevin Walkin, Head of Asbestos Policy at HSE, said:

"The research shows that the risk from asbestos-containing textured coatings is
comparable to the risks from work with asbestos cement, which does not require
a licence.

"We're not saying this work is no-risk - it still needs to be carried out by
trained workers using appropriate controls. Licensing is an additional check on
high-risk work and should reflect changing knowledge about risks to remain
credible."

In the original research where standard controlled removal (wetting, air
extraction) techniques were employed, the mean airborne asbestos fibre
concentration was 0.08 f/cm3, which is below the proposed control limit of 0.1
f/cm3.

In the new research issues of removal from a wider range of surfaces, the
effect of working with no air extraction and the effectiveness of the clearance
based on a visual assessment alone, were addressed. The fibre concentrations
were less than 0.1 f/cm3 when using the control removal techniques required in
the draft Approved Code of Practice (AcoP), HSL also tested clearance strategies inside enclosures during the new research.
Measurements demonstrated that a fibre concentration of around 0.01 f/cm3 would
be produced from disturbance required for clearance testing sampling. A
simulation exercise at HSL showed that even if large amounts of debris remained
after a removal, the airborne concentration would be very low and that visual
assessment would be an effective method of assessing that the area was safe for
reoccupation.

Measurements made just outside removal enclosures whilst textured decorative
coatings were being removed indicated that it is unlikely that fibre releases
would exceed 0.01 f/cm3 in the immediate area.

Further info


AplusA-online.de - Source: Health and Safety Executive