Decorative Plaster

  One popular and common material to use during the 1940’s to the 1970’s was decorative plaster on the surface of interior walls and ceilings of homes and buildings. This same material was used on ornamental cornices, footings and moldings.   The most popular brand, Artex, came from Britain, but was sold around the world.  One of the main ingredients in this decorative plaster was asbestos. The manufacturers, mixers, and sculptors were all at risk of exposure.  If a wall or ceiling ornamented with decorated plaster became cracked or damaged, the inhabitants had the chance to inhale asbestos, as well. Later on in the 1960’s and 1970’s this same asbestos was used in acoustical plaster that gave the ceiling a textured look and also aided in the ability to absorb sound. This product, like the decorative plaster before it, contained white asbestos, which was the least harmful form used in construction, although it did still pose a health issue when inhaled.  When working with decorative plaster, dust is released and when the asbestos dust is inhaled it lodges in the lungs. Construction workers who mixed the plaster would have been exposed to the asbestos as the dust entered the air. Most of these people never knew the dangers they were working with. People who have worked with decorative plaster over the years have a chance of obtaining an asbestos related disease. This would include anyone who worked in the construction field as a builder, demolition person, or home remodeler. Decorative plaster made with asbestos has since seized production, however during renovation of an older home or other building there is still a chance of exposure to this toxic element. Reference: EPA