What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral, known for its fire resistance, high levels of durability and insulating properties. It was used extensively in the building industry in the 1900s for products such as drainage pipes, flat and corrugated sheeting in roofs, guttering and roofing shingles.
Asbestos comes in different forms and there are a range of construction materials that use asbestos in them. For this reason, it is often difficult to tell if a product includes asbestos just by looking at it. Touching or manipulating the material could be dangerous, and the best and safest option is to contact a licensed asbestos removalist for an accurate and professional inspection.
Where can Asbestos be found?
Any houses or other buildings built prior to 1990 may contain asbestos. A number of bonded materials containing asbestos were used in wall sheeting and ceiling sheeting in many homes, commonly in the kitchen and bathroom. Older forms of insulation used in stoves and heaters can also contain asbestos, as well as in sheet floorings. These do not pose an immediate health risk unless the items are damaged or uncovered, which can lead to exposure.
Outside the house, asbestos was present in bonded materials commonly used for roof sheeting, water pipes and guttering, along with use in fences, sheds and even car ports.
What are the Health Risks?
Asbestos was banned from manufacture and use in Australia at the end of 2003. Evidence shows that prolonged exposure to high concentrations of asbestos fibres causes cancer and mesothelioma.
In the early 1900’s it was noticed that a large number of people in asbestos mining towns developed lung problems or died. Further investigations existed for the next century; however asbestos use was continued in building practises, specifically between the years of 1945 and 1980.
Asbestos can cause health problems if high concentrations of the fibres are inhaled over an extended time period. This makes people who have worked with, or lived around these fibres at greater risk. The symptoms usually have a delayed onset, of 10 – 20 years.
What should I do about asbestos on my property?
Do not touch or disturb the materials if you believe they are asbestos. If the materials remain undamaged and undisturbed they do not pose a threat. Contacting a licensed contractor to perform an inspection is the best choice for ensuring your building is safe. They will inspect the area, advise you if the material is in fact asbestos, and determine the safest procedures for dealing with it.
If your home contains materials that have asbestos, minimising the release of dust and small particles are crucial. If the bonded materials are undamaged and not exposed, chances are there is no risk.
But for peace of mind, or if you think there might be exposed materials containing asbestos, you should remain clear of the area and call Asbastos Consultancy, who are qualified and licensed asbestos removalists. Getting rid of the potential problem will definitely ease your mind, and eliminate any future health risks.