Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral substance used across the world as not just a building material but used by many different industries for its resistance to heat, chemicals, and electricity as well as being a strong and flexible material. There are six commonly used types of Asbestos to watch out for. These include: Chrysotile (White), Amosite (Brown), Crocidolite (Blue), Tremolite, Actinolite, and Anthophyllite.
These six types of Asbestos can then be sorted into two categories: Friable, and non-friable. Friable Asbestos is easily crumbled and broken making it very easy to become airborne to be inhaled. Non-Friable Asbestos only becomes a hazard when it is broken, or damaged as the fibres are more tightly bound. However, it is important to note that should fire, hail, or water damage non-friable asbestos, it can then become friable and must be managed and removed accordingly by a accredited professional to ensure the health and safety of the public.
Whilst it was once considered the perfect building material, unfortunately recent research has revealed that exposure to Asbestos fibres can be detrimental or even fatal, potentially causing diseases such as Asbestosis, Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma, and other Cancers when inhaled. All asbestos was banned within Australia in 2003, before this Australia had the most asbestos per person in the world and from 1930-1983 over one million tonnes of asbestos was imported to the country.
So where can I find Asbestos?
Asbestos can be found in the following places and more;
- Lining behind wall tiles
- Imitation brick cladding
- Telecommunication pits
- Window putty
- Expansion joints
- concrete formwork
However, if the home was built or renovated before 1990, there may be some other products used that were made from asbestos bonded cement.
These can include:
- Fibro sheeting
- Water drainage
- Flue pipes
- Roofing shingles
- Backing of floor coverings
The health risk from asbestos cement products is very low however any kind of health risk from asbestos poisoning should be taken seriously.
If you are planning on making renovations of DIY projects that may damage something containing asbestos, make sure to carefully follow the advice in Asbestos: a guide for householders and general public which provides information to householders on how to safely and sensibly manage any problems that may arise from encounters with materials such as asbestos. However, it is always advised that a licensed professional be involved as not everything may be as it seems as far as asbestos is concerned.
Getting suspected asbestos tested is surprisingly simple, Asbestos Testing, a professional can come to you, take samples of the suspected asbestos to take back to an NATA accredited laboratory to be tested. This can take as little as 24 hours, multiple samples may take longer to read accurate results. From there, a professional removal company, Asbestos Removal, can run through your options for removal or encapsulation following your states necessary safety and legal rules.
It is not recommended for you to try to dispose of the asbestos yourself as inhalation of the contaminant could be fatal and cause incurable respiratory problems. Non-compliance with required procedures for disposal of asbestos, inappropriate packaging of waste, and failure to unload as per requirements are all offenses and you can be fined heavily if caught. To avoid this, seek professional advice and hire a reputable and accredited contractor.