Sydney is a highly urbanised and developed city, and you can immediately tell so by looking at the series of contemporary houses built across the capital. Modernisation is a huge indicator of advancement. Contemporary homes are not only known for their sleek and minimalist style but also their energy-efficient and eco-friendly composition. More than that, modern homes are also custom-built so that they are safe and healthy for the family who will live in them.
One measure on how you can ensure the safety of your home is to use safe and non-toxic construction materials. That means avoiding materials that can jeopardise your health and cause illness. Asbestos is one of these housing materials you need to steer clear of.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural mineral made of thin fibres that are thermally stable and resistant to heat, electricity, and rust. It was widely used in construction before the 1980s for insulation, soundproofing, and fireproofing. Despite these construction benefits, asbestos is toxic to human health and can cause various complications. When construction materials get damaged, such as by natural wear-and-tear or during a renovation, asbestos fibres become airborne. Exposure and inhalation of asbestos can cause lung problems and cancer in the long run.
Two Forms of Asbestos
Asbestos comes in two forms: friable and non-friable. Friable asbestos is the raw or natural state of asbestos wherein the loose fibres can crumble and pulverise even with the slightest amount of pressure. This form is considered more hazardous to human health because we can immediately inhale these asbestos fibres and powder.
Non-friable or bonded asbestos, on the other hand, are incorporated into products using cement, vinyl, or resin. However, this form has the same health-risk potential as friable asbestos when they get degraded, crushed, or broken. Mechanical disturbance and damage to hard-bonded asbestos can likewise send off asbestos fibres and powder into the air.
Where Can You Find Asbestos in Your Home?
Before the 1980s, asbestos was widely used as a construction material for houses, buildings, and other household items. Listed below are common areas and parts of the house where friable or bonded asbestos are commonplace:
- Internal and external wall cladding
- Roofing and siding shingles
- Floor tiles
- Spray-on insulation
- Textured paints
- Steam and hot water pipes
- Insulation around furnaces, heaters, stoves, and ovens
The Problem with Asbestos
Asbestos released into the air is toxic to human health. Asbestosis or scarring of the lungs caused by inhalation of asbestos results in breathing problems and heart failure. People who work in manufacturing plants of asbestos or those who use asbestos products are at high risk of asbestosis.
Asbestos is also carcinogenic. Prolonged exposure to this toxic fibre can cause cancer of the lungs and an unusual illness called mesothelioma, or tumour growth in the chest and abdomen lining. Asbestos is also related to cancer of the stomach, intestines, and rectum.
Is Asbestos Still Used in Modern Homes?
If you built or renovated your house after 1990, you have nothing to worry about asbestos. Your building is unlikely to contain this material since the Australian government began phasing out asbestos-containing materials in the 1980s. Asbestos-cement materials were discontinued since then to make way for safer, asbestos-free alternatives. The Australian government officially banned the production, use, reuse, import, transport, storage and sale of asbestos in any form at the beginning of 2004.
Modern houses, therefore, do not contain asbestos in them, especially the ones built after the total ban of asbestos products. That’s why you don’t have to worry about health risks caused by asbestos when you have construction damage and you need renovation or repair.
Can you determine if your home has asbestos?
Even if you have a modern home, you can never confirm that it doesn’t have asbestos unless you’re a professional in determining asbestos material. So, if you suspect asbestos substance in your house, contact professional asbestos removalists immediately so that they can verify and remove the material from your premises.