- What is asbestos?
Most people think about asbestos as that material on the outside of your home – wall sheeting, eaves, carport ceilings, corrugated roofing and fencing. It was used extensively on the inside of your home – as the sheeting on the bathroom, laundry, kitchen walls and ceilings.
What are the possible health effects of asbestos?
If products containing asbestos are disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. Over time, these fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to serious health problems including cancer.
Is it dangerous?
Because it is so hard to destroy asbestos fibers, the body cannot break them down or remove them once they are lodged in lung or body tissues. They remain in place where they can cause disease.
There are three primary diseases associated with asbestos exposure:
– Lung Cancer
Do new building materials contain asbestos?
Since 31 December, 2003, asbestos and all products containing asbestos have been banned throughout Australia. It is illegal to import, store, supply, sell, install, use or re-use these materials. The ban does not apply to asbestos installed prior to this date (e.g. asbestos in houses).
What should I do if I find asbestos in my home?
If you think that you have found asbestos in your home, don’t touch it. Asbestos is a risk in the home when it is disturbed in a way that produces dust that contains asbestos fibres. In many cases the presence of asbestos-containing materials in the home is no cause for alarm if the material has not been damaged.
How do I know if I have asbestos?
It is not possible to tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it. Careful, close examination of a sample using specialised microscopic procedures is the only way to tell whether a material contains asbestos. It is best for this to be done at an accredited laboratory. If you know the suspect material was installed before 1990, it is safest to assume it does contain asbestos. If you need to be certain, have it tested.
Are there different kinds of asbestos?
There are two types of materials that were used in housing construction that contain asbestos:
– Bonded (tightly-bound) asbestos or non-friable asbestos
– Loosely-bound asbestos or friable asbestos
What is bonded asbestos?
Bonded asbestos materials contain a percentage of asbestos fibres embedded in a hardened cement matrix and are the most common asbestos materials used in residential housing. These materials are commonly called ‘fibro’, ‘asbestos cement’ or ‘AC sheeting’ and can contain 10-15% of asbestos but this figure can sometimes reach up to 40%. Bonded asbestos materials are considered to be less of a risk in comparison to loosely-bound asbestos and can be handled more easily, however if the firmly-bound materials are degrading, becoming loose or falling apart, they need to be handled with extra care to prevent dust-containing asbestos fibres.
What is friable asbestos?
Friable asbestos materials are not commonly found in residential properties and were primarily used in commercial and industrial settings for fire proofing, sound proofing and insulation. In most cases, glass fibres have replaced asbestos in today’s insulation products. However, in some residential settings the loose form of asbestos fibres may be found in old domestic heaters, stoves, and hot water systems and associated hot water pipe lagging along with ceiling insulation products and in the backing of vinyl and linoleum floor coverings. This form of asbestos material can contain up to 100% asbestos and is very loose – turning to dust with light pressure.This material is considered highly dangerous as fibres become easily airborne and should only ever be handled and removed by a licensed asbestos removalist.