Are you unknowingly living in a home or building constructed using asbestos? In Australia, approximately 60% of homes currently standing were built using asbestos cement. Find out how to watch out for asbestos and how to identify if it might be hiding behind any walls or ceilings you are working with.
So if you’re looking at a renovation – or another project that involves getting into your walls and ceiling – have a read below and be aware of the risks of Asbestos in your home or building.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made up of durable thin fibres. Asbestos is used in building materials because it’s resistant to heat and doesn’t burn or conduct electricity. The fibre can be commonly found in insulation, cement, plaster, fire blankets and brake pads. But Asbestos becomes dangerous with prolonged exposure to the substance.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to health problems and in some cases, death. Because the substance is commonly used in building materials, people involved in demolition and maintenance are most at risk. The tiny fibres that dislodge from insulation or building material can be breathed in, get lodged in the lungs, and cause fibrosis, mesothelioma, and cancer.
The first step to identifying asbestos is to figure out how likely it is that your house was built using it. In 2003, asbestos products were banned throughout Australia, but if your home was built before 1990, it most likely contains some form of asbestos.
The majority of homes built in the 1960’s were constructed using asbestos cement. In the 1970’s the majority of homes were still constructed with asbestos cement, and asbestos was used for insulation in the roofing.
If you suspect that your home contains asbestos, it’s best to seek the advice of an expert. Any unprotected contact with the fibres can put you at risk.
Asbestos is a massive health hazard. Not just to the person disposing of the material, but also to unsuspecting victims. In Australia, there are licenced asbestos removal specialists that are trained to remove the material safely. Asbestos products CAN NOT be thrown into a regular skip bin.
If you’re working on a home renovation, it’s best to get the home surveyed by a professional before proceeding with the demolition.