Asbestos: Essential Information

Asbestos Essential Information

Asbestos was once a very popular construction material in Australia because of its useful properties like fire and water resistance, good insulating property, plus the ability to endure decay and erosion. The frenzy led to the manufacturing of thousands of asbestos building products, not only in the country but all around the world. However, the health danger of this naturally occurring material was discovered and since 2003, the use, storage, and import of asbestos were banned.

To ensure your family’s safety from possible exposure, you must be aware of all essential information about asbestos and the risk it poses to the human body.

Why is asbestos bad?

When asbestos is damaged, it releases very tiny fibres that are hard to see and can remain in the air for a long period of time. If inhaled, the asbestos fibres can cause diseases like lung cancer, ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. Also, there is no such thing as a “safe level” of exposure to asbestos. Even a small amount can pose danger. However, the more fibres you breathe, the more you are likely to contract these lung diseases. The symptoms will not manifest until 20 to 30 years later, but once the diseases show, they will be very difficult to cure.

Which houses are at risk?

If your home was built, renovated, or improved between 1940 and 1990, then it’s very likely that it contains asbestos. This is the period when the use of asbestos materials is very common. The popularity died down after the mid-80’s. There’s lesser risk for houses built after 1990 and it’s unlikely for those which are constructed after 2003 when the total ban was imposed.

Where are you likely to find it?

Asbestos is mostly found in the internal walls or under the floor inside the house. Outside, it was commonly used as roof guttering and roof sheeting. For homes with fences, sheds, or garage, the exterior sheets are also likely to be made of asbestos. There won’t be any problem if these parts are left undisturbed. However, if you have no idea about the presence of asbestos in your home, you’ll likely drill or break them down at some point during renovations or home improvements. This is when the problem occurs.

How to know if there’s asbestos in your home?

Another problem is that to the untrained eye, it can be difficult to spot. The best thing to do is assume that you are indeed living in a place constructed with the hazardous material and be cautious about causing damage to your property. Remember that asbestos fibres are very tiny that wearing a normal dust mask is not enough to prevent you from breathing them.

What you need to do is have a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) laboratory test a sample of your home’s wall material before doing any installations or renovations that may release asbestos fibres in the air.

Is asbestos still used in building materials today?

Although Australia has stopped producing materials with asbestos since 2003, there are still many products containing asbestos in workplaces within Australia. The importation of construction materials and insulation products is being regulated by the government but people are still advised to be careful when handling these products. Also, try to stay away from construction sites, quarrying and mining areas, and other excavation sites because asbestos is a natural mineral and may be found in such places.

How can a building inspector help you find the presence of asbestos?

Whether at home or at a workplace, you should do your best to identify any material containing asbestos and implement control measures to prevent the risk of exposure from this health hazard. A building inspector, like iCertified, can help you with that.

Our professional inspectors will identify materials on your property that are likely to contain asbestos, assess them, and send samples to NATA for positive identification. We will make recommendations regarding the management, maintenance, or removal of such materials. We will also submit your property to the National Asbestos Exposure Register. iCertified will also help create an asbestos management plan to ensure safety on your property. Call us now on 1300 899 078 to book an inspection and have your home or workplace free from asbestos.
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