Asbestos has been banned in Australia since 2003 due to the significant health risk to individuals. It is currently illegal to make or use it in Australia. However, before 2003 asbestos was a common material in more than 3,000 different building products. These varied from pipes and drains to roofing material and gutters. Therefore, you must have a proper check conducted to identify asbestos on any older property to protect those who reside on the property.
However, it is not easy to identify asbestos. It is almost impossible for the untrained eye to identify asbestos. Furthermore, the formal process to identify asbestos requires an accredited expert, coupled with a positive test from an approved testing centre. Read on about how to identify asbestos and what to do.
Why is asbestos so dangerous?
There are two types of asbestos:
- Friable — When dry, it can be crumbled, pulverised, or reduced to a powder in hand. This type of asbestos is high risk as fibers can easily permeate the air. An example of this might be old asbestos pipe insulation.
- Non-friable — When dry, it’s not easily crumbled like friable asbestos. It is mixed with cement or other bonding materials, and is commonly known as bonded asbestos. This type of asbestos poses less risk to the person. However, older non-friable asbestos can turn into Friable. An example of this might be concrete slabs or durable vinyl asbestos tiles.
Asbestos becomes a dangerous health risk when the fibres are released into the air and breathed in. They can cause asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. The more a person is exposed to the fibres, the higher the risk. And sadly, the first symptoms don’t usually appear for another 20-30 years after exposure.
How do you identify asbestos in your home or office?
Unfortunately, asbestos is not visible to the naked eye, nor does it smell or have a taste. Therefore, you may only suspect that asbestos is evident unless it is clearly marked. When it comes to the home or office, asbestos can be found inside and outside the home:
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Carpet underlay
- Flues, fireplaces and ventilators
- Fibro sheeting, walls, ceilings, and mouldings
- Insulation – Ceiling, piping, etc.
- Internal and external ventilators
- Downpipes, gutters, and drains
- External sheets and toilets
The only way to detect asbestos is to send a sample to a lab for testing. An accredited asbestos inspector will need to conduct the test. Only those properly trained who hold an official licence to handle asbestos should conduct any formal verification and removal.
If you suspect that asbestos may be present, treat it as it is. Please do not touch it and reach out to an expert to conduct a formal evaluation and test.
What is involved with the removal of asbestos?
According to Safe Work Australia guidelines, unless you’re removing less than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos, you must be licensed to remove asbestos. However, even if you are planning to remove less than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos, it is encouraged that you call a licensed professional to do the work.
In some situations, the entire removal of asbestos-containing materials is required. In other cases, it may be safer to leave the materials undisturbed. A sealant will be applied to make them safe. If a sealant is used, the area should be labeled, so any future workers can be made aware of the dangerous material underneath.
In addition, you will be responsible for ensuring an asbestos register is created and up to date if you own or manage a workplace. This includes providing detailed records on any asbestos identification and removal/seals.
If you suspect that you have asbestos in your home or office, remember to call an expert and try not to disturb the area. Daklen Building Group is fully licensed in asbestos removal. We can provide a detailed quote and plan to manage the asbestos safely. Give us a call to learn more about how we can help you.