Several years back, asbestos was a vital component of the building industry. It boasts of a number of appealing properties including the ability to withstand extreme heat, decomposition and erosion. What’s more, it has water and fire-resistant properties and it’s quite easy to see why this versatile material had more than 3,000 industrial applications worldwide.
It was used in the manufacture of flue pipes, insulation products, fibro asbestos sheets, textile and clothing products, cement pipes, gutters, roofing materials and gaskets. So revered was the material that up until the mid-1990s, Australia was one of the highest asbestos users per head of population on the global stage!
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Although it is a naturally-occurring mineral, asbestos is equally a deadly carcinogen. If disturbed, asbestos materials are known to release dangerous fine particles. If you inhale these fibres, you can potentially develop a whole host of health problems including lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma which is a deadly lung disease which is incurable.
The asbestos fibres are not visible to the naked eye, do not decompose over time, are very light and can remain airborne for an extended period. They can also travel long distances. Clearly, these factors make asbestos an extremely dangerous material. In fact, there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
Due to the health risks associated with its long-term use, the Australian government banned the manufacture, use, reuse, transport, import, storage and the sale of all forms of asbestos in 2003. Despite the efforts to curb the threat of asbestos, the numbers of related deaths are still staggering.
According to the Australian Mesothelioma Registry, at least 641 Australians died from mesothelioma in 2014 alone. The same report adds that mesothelioma cases in the country are projected to reach 18000 in the next few years!
How do you identify asbestos in your residential home?
Clearly, you have every reason to be concerned about the presence of asbestos in your home. A significant number of homes built before 1980 contain asbestos in ceiling tiles, roofing shingles, floor tiles, insulation, ducts, siding, flashing, window caulking and glazing and glue that attaches your floor tiles to concrete.
Some homes may also have a vermiculite attic insulation that has asbestos. The use of asbestos was so widespread that Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency estimates that 33% of all homes in Australia contain various asbestos products. If you didn’t know, these dangerous materials are not only found in clad and weatherboard homes but brick as well as fibro homes.
Generally, there are relatively higher chances of your structure having asbestos if it was either built or renovated before 1980.
Can I tell if my structure contains asbestos?
It is not always easy to tell whether your home has asbestos or not. This is a job which should only be done by the most qualified and licensed professionals. Although you may be legally allowed to remove small amounts of bonded asbestos yourself, it is always a good idea to engage professional asbestos removalists.
This is because asbestos removal professionals have the right equipment and the knowledge to handle the dangerous material. If you are contacting an expert, make sure he/she has the necessary license to undertake the work.
Dealing with asbestos in your home: removal and repair.
Repair involves the process of covering or sealing asbestos materials. Also known as encapsulation. Sealing treats the material with an effective sealant that binds the asbestos tightly together to ensure they don’t disintegrate. Boiler, pipe or even furnace insulation can be dealt with this way. On the other hand, the enclosure procedure involves putting protective wraps around the material that is believed to contain asbestos. This prevents the release of the fibres.
Even though repair is relatively cheaper than removal, it makes future removal of asbestos costly and difficult. As we previously mentioned, these procedures should only be undertaken by contractors licensed by the state to carry out asbestos abatement activities.
How do I know if I have been affected by asbestos exposure?
Generally, asbestos-related health problems take decades to show up. Your chances of developing a disease also depend on the amount of time you’ve been exposed to, as well as the intensity of the asbestos exposure. Some of the common symptoms associated with asbestos exposure include:
If a material that contains asbestos is currently in a stable condition such that the fibres cannot be released, then it may not be hazardous in this period. Regardless, you should take the initiative to inspect it for signs of asbestos deterioration and damage. If handled appropriately, asbestos can be prevented from ever causing a single problem in your home. All in all, the removal is the only permanent solution to dealing with asbestos.
Contact the professionals today from Paul’s Rubbish Removal on 0407 125 125 for a free quote on asbestos removal in Sydney. We will remove and dispose of asbestos for you carefully and quickly!
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Sarah Baker is a Digital Content Writer for Paul's Rubbish Removal. Sarah is a huge advocate for recycling, environmental sustainability, health and well-being and has a genuine love for all sea animals. Keep up with Sarah by following Paul's Rubbish Removal blog!