The majority of people know asbestos is a very dangerous substance, but many do not understand what it is or why the mineral is bad for the body. Understanding asbestos is important because the illnesses associated with the substance can cause serious medical problems and even death. The Mesothelioma Center is an up-to-date resource for all information ranging from asbestos exposure to mesothelioma clinical trials.
Asbestos is the name given to a group of fibrous silicate minerals that can potentially cause lung disease if inhaled. It is a mineral fibre that exists naturally in the ground in various parts of Australia and the world.
There are three main types of asbestos:
- Crocidolite (blue asbestos);
- Amosite (brown asbestos) and;
- Chrysotile (white asbestos).
Asbestos can be found in a number of products used in the Australian building industry between the 1940’s and late 1980’s and is classified as either friable or bonded.
Friable Asbestos is material which, when dry, can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure; or as a result of a work process, may become such that it can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
Bonded and non-friable Asbestos is a fibre-cement product. The asbestos is firmly embedded in a hardened cement matrix. The bonded sheets are flat, corrugated or circular tubes.
Asbestos can also be found in the brakes, clutches and gaskets of many older cars. For a list of products that may contain asbestos, go to Appendix C of the Worksafe Victoria Compliance Code ‘Removing Asbestos in workplaces’ Edition 1, September 2008 or click on the link http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/07834b804071fb64b200fee1fb554c40/cc_asbestos_remove.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
Asbestos cement products, also called ‘fibro’ and ‘AC sheeting’, are most commonly found in household building materials and are generally located in the walls and ceilings of wet areas. For example, bathroom, laundry, kitchen, sunroom, patio, porch. You can also find asbestos in vinyl floor tiles, backing board of linoleum floor coverings, external eaves, gutters, drains, garages, sheds, around hot water pipes, imitation brick cladding, heater flues, roofs and even carpet underlay. In some cases it was also used in insulated electric wiring, some stoves and hot water systems and light fittings as well as mill boards a the back and sides of electrical switch boards.
To minimise the possibility of the spreading of respirable asbestos fibres, the following general guidelines regarding asbestos-containing products should be observed at all times:
All asbestos containing materials should be kept in good repair
- Asbestos containing materials should never be tooled, cut, sanded, abraded, machined or subjected to excessive vibration
- Personnel should be advised of the presence and location of asbestos containing materials in the workplace. This is essential where friable materials are present. Under no circumstances should anybody disturb or remove friable asbestos containing materials unless they hold a class A removalist licence.
- Areas containing friable or damaged asbestos materials should be isolated from personnel
- As far as it practicalbe all asbestos containing materials should be appropriately labelled
- Consideration should be given to replacement of all asbestos containing materials (particularly friable materials) with non-asbestos containing alternatives, whenever and wherever this is practicable
- Before any demolition or refurbishment takes place, the risk to personnel arising from the work must be assessed. The results of this assessment must be made available to persons responsible for carrying out the demolition or refurbishment. This also applies to the removal of redundant equipment
Question: How can I tell if the walls in my bathroom contain asbestos?
“The only way to be 100% certain if your product contains asbestos is to have it tested in a laboratory under a microscope. To test your product you will need to be able to provide a sample piece no smaller than a fifty cent piece. We can come and take the sample piece for you and have it tested in a certified laboratory for asbestos fibres. You will receive a written report with the findings
There are some tell tale signs to look for to assist in determining if your product contains asbestos should you decide not to have a sample tested. Things to look for will include; looking at the reverse side of the board to see if there are small indents or golf ball like patterns on the back. If there are, then it is highly probable that your product does contain asbestos fibres. If it is smooth and looks the same as the exposed side then it is highly probable that your product does not contain asbestos.
I have an old shed in my backyard and it has a corrugated roof, is that asbestos?
All corrugated roof sheeting that has not been manufactured using tin or aluminum will contain asbestos. It will look like compressed cardboard and will have the indents on both sides.
I am looking at buying an investment property and I want to know if it has asbestos in it.
You can choose to have someone from Asbestos Central Pty Ltd visit the property and do a visual inspection, report and quotation. This can usually be conducted within the week. We would require full access to the site for not more than 2 hours. If there is a particular product of concern and we are unable to get a clear visual of the product, we will suggest testing be done. To enquire as to the cost of this service click here.
I have an old heater in the house that has a flue coming out of it going into the roof cavity. Does it have any asbestos in it?
Most likely you will find that the flue contains asbestos. It is also highly likely that there is friable asbestos inside the heater itself. We can take the whole heater away for you, including the flue. We can remove the flue and patch the ceiling. The flue is likely to go into the roof cavity and out of the other side. We can fix the tiles, if required. It would assist us if you knew the colour and type of roof tiles you have. To enquire as to the cost of this service click here.
Just because I have asbestos, does that mean I have to get it removed?
If the material is broken, deteriorating or disturbed in such a way that dust potentially containing asbestos fibres is produced then you should look at having it removed and disposed of immediately. Most sheets are likely to be deteriorating to the point where dust is being produced, unless they have been painted or sealed on both sides. You can have the dust tested to see if it contains asbestos fibres. To enquire as to the cost of this service
The building I work in has an asbestos roof. Am I getting exposed?
You have the right to ask your boss to see a copy of there Hazardous Materials Control Plan. This will clearly set out what precautions and measures they have taken, and will continue to take, to ensure that the dust being released from the sheets do not contain asbestos and what to do if any of the sheets are broken or damaged. It will identify things like gaskets, fire walls, lead paints, corrugated and bonded sheets, insulation etc and should grade the level of risk. It can also be called a Part 5 or Part 6 Audit Report in Victoria.
Question: A truck has just reversed into our factory wall and the roof has been smashed and it is corrugated roof sheeting?
You need to immediately clear the area and click here. This is classified as a high risk situation that needs to be dealt with urgently.