What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral-based building material made by bonding silica fibres together. It came in flat sheets for walls and roofs, thick wads for insulation, and pipe form. One form of asbestos is crumbly, known as friable asbestos. The other form is well bonded so there are no loose fibres. The friable one is more dangerous to handle because of the loose fibres. Asbestos was used a lot because of its water, heat and chemical resistance, strength under pressure, and electrical insulation properties. Its use as building material spanned from the 1940s to 1980s until its danger was realized. In Australia its manufacture and use was banned in 2003. Now we have the problem of all the asbestos installed in buildings before 2003!
These are some of the things you may find made of or containing asbestos:
- inside and outside walls of houses and sheds
- fixed shades over the windows of older houses
- insulation of heaters, stoves and ceilings
- sound proofing
- linoleum backing
- flame retardants
Why remove asbestos?
There may be no choice. Buildings and parts age. Therefore eventually removing asbestos is unavoidable. You may be renovating, extending, having repairs or an interior stripout done when unexpected asbestos is found. Or you may already know a structure contains asbestos, and want it removed for redevelopment, long term safety, health, legal compliance and property value.
What are the risks?
People have been aware of the danger of asbestos for several years. But why is it a problem to remove it? In short, asbestos is dangerous when it’s cut, broken, crushed or sawn. This releases a dust of loose fibres which accumulate in people’s lungs. Our bodies cannot remove it. Instead it forms ever-growing scars and can lead to cancer and eventually death. For this reason the home handyman and tradespeople like plumbers, electricians, builders, etc. are at risk. Demolition workers may be at the most serious risk. Therefore people in this trade have a high awareness of asbestos and can make proper arrangements for its safe removal. Properly trained and qualified people are required to safely remove asbestos. If you know or suspect asbestos in your building, call us for advice and a plan of action.