Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral fibre that was popular in building and construction due to its strength, flexibility, wide usage, lightweight, affordability and waterproof nature. However once asbestos is worn or broken, fibres can be released into the air. These fibres can be inhaled causing chronic respiratory issues like lung cancer and in some cases these lead to a premature death. So when dealing with asbestos great care needs to be taken to ensure the safety of all those involved and the health of the general public.
So where can our kids be exposed to asbestos?
Our kids can be exposed to asbestos in many places, some of these include your own home and their school. Buildings erected before the 1980’s have a large chance in containing asbestos as it was only fully banned within Australia in 2003 with bans starting to take place in the mid-1980’s. Asbestos was commonly used in flooring, ceilings and walls as well as many other places. Breathing in asbestos can create respiratory issues decades after inhalation so it is important to know if your home or school contains it, where it is located and the condition that it is in. The best way to know if you have asbestos in your home is get your home professionally tested, Asbestos Testing Melbourne, call an asbestos professional and they will come to your property to collect a sample which they will take to an NATA accredited laboratory, after they have tested the potential asbestos they will return the results directly to you. This can happen within 24 hours however multiple samples may take longer to ensure accurate results. Utilizing a professional will also help keep yourself and others safe as they will inform you of any risks of contamination or health risks.
The Australia has put into place laws and guidelines regarding asbestos in schools such as the AHERA-Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act which requires schools to inspect the whole school grounds for asbestos by professionally licensed companies, then have a re-inspection every 3 years, the information from these reports must be maintained and available for the use of parents, teachers, and other members of the community. So the very best way to know if there is asbestos in your child’s school is to request to view the schools AHERA report form, however it is also important to remember that asbestos can be put into two categories ‘low risk and ‘high risk’, high risk asbestos can easily be inhaled and low risk asbestos is in good condition and does not yet pose a threat to student or staff health, some schools may have asbestos in them but have had it professionally declared safe.
The best precautions to put into place to protect your child is to do your research, contact professionals like Asbestos Removal Melbourne if you have any queries and to keep up to date with your schools AHERA reports. Unfortunately asbestos is still a large part of our construction world but many states are in the process of making the current asbestos safe or removing it in a environmentally friendly way. Victoria has removed all of its high risk asbestos from its schools since 2016 and aims to removed all low risk asbestos by 2020, this is just one of the steps the Australian government is taking to ensure safer schooling for our children and maintain the health of the general public.