Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring mineral fibres and was long viewed as one of the most versatile minerals because of its flexibility, strength, insulation, chemical inertness and affordability.
Australia was one of the highest asbestos users per capita in the world until the mid 1980s. Approximately one third of all homes built in Australia contain asbestos products.
Asbestos can be found in roof sheeting and capping, guttering, gables, eaves, wall sheeting, vinyl sheet flooring, carpet and tile underlays, switchboards, flexible building boards, imitation brick cladding, fencing carports, sheds, waterproof membrane, telecommunication pits, window putty expansion joints, concrete framework and packing under beams in houses built between 1980 and 1990.
If asbestos fibres are disturbed and released into the air they can be extremely dangerous and be trapped in the lungs for many years. This can be extremely dangerous causing:
- Shortness of breath
- Scaring of the lungs
- Mesothelioma – cancer
- Lung cancer
- Pleural plaques
- Thickening of the membranes surrounding the lungs
- Fluid between the lungs and inside wall of the chest
However, if you are renovating a home with asbestos, there are ways to manage asbestos safely.
Here are our top 10 safety tips!
- Always have asbestos removed by a specialist. It is very affordable.
- If you are unsure if your home has asbestos, have it inspected by a licenced removalist.
- Do not cut, drill, drop, sand, saw, scape, scrub, dismantle, tip, water blast, demolish or dump asbestos.
- You can paint asbestos and leave it alone but remember to check it occasionally for any signs of wear and tear.
- There are legal requirements regarding asbestos removal, management and disposal.
- In the presence of asbestos, you will need to wear protective clothing, mask or breathing apparatus and ensure you minimise dust.
- Never use electric drills, angle grinders, circular saws, electric sanders, water blasters or compressed air on asbestos.
- DIY is not recommended in asbestos homes.
- If undisturbed asbestos is unlikely to release dangerous fibres and pose a health risk.
- Where asbestos fibres are friable (loose), only licensed professionals are allowed to remove it.
It is extremely important that you follow these safety tips. 10,000 people have died in Australia since the early 1980s from Mesothelioma. According to experts, an additional 25,000 people are expected to succumb to the disease in the next 40 years.
If you have been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with Mesothelioma or an asbestos related disease you may be able to claim compensation under Australian Law.