Yearly Archives: 2016

/2016

Where is Asbestos Commonly Found in Australia?

Where Asbestos is commonly found

More than 10,000 Australians died from the rare cancer, mesothelioma caused by asbestos in the last 35 years. This means Australia has the worst death rate from this disease in the world, second only to the United Kingdom. It does not end there. Cancer specialists predict a further 25,000 deaths in the next 40 years. In 2014, there were 641 deaths from mesothelioma, and the figures indicate asbestos-related deaths are slowly increasing.

Asbestos in Australia

Australia had a huge asbestos mining industry centred mainly in West Australia, New South Wales and Queensland until asbestos health hazards became better understood. The asbestos mining town Wittenoom in West Australia stands deserted as a harsh reminder of its past. The area is too dangerous and the West Australian government recently removed its status as a town. It stands today waiting to return to dust.

The distribution and use of asbestos products across Australia means it is widespread in buildings and homes built before 1990. Since Australia banned asbestos of any kind in 2003, there has been increasing numbers of people diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases (lung cancer and mesothelioma, for example) in every Australian state. Asbestos has a latent period of between 20 and 30 years after exposure before symptoms can show up.  

Where you find asbestos

Asbestos is still everywhere though Australia we talked about it recently here. It was banned however for production, use and import in 2003. Its uses were wide and varied, and asbestos may still be found in old products such as:

  • cement sheeting used for buildings, water and sewerage pipes, as fire protection products, to protect electrical wire and in switchboards, and for tanks for holding chemicals
  • asbestos paper used in wire insulation, floor underlays, components in small appliances and in mats used for heat protection
  • asbestos textiles used in heaters, roofing materials and some packing materials
  • in automotive parts like brake linings and clutch facings
  • sealants, paint, floor and ceiling tiles, gaskets and packing products.

Asbestos around the home

Buying an old house may bring you problems if it has asbestos products. So how do you know? You cannot tell just by looking at asbestos. You need a professional analysis to be sure. A house built after 1990 is unlikely to contain asbestos. Homes built from the mid-1980s to 1990 will probably contain asbestos, and those built before the mid-1980s are very like to have asbestos. So where are you likely to find it round your home? Here are some examples:

  • Asbestos insulation around old water pipes and flues – these release dangerous fibres if not handled correctly when removing or repairing them.
  • Roofing materials and shingles – these are not likely to release fibres unless you drill, saw or cut them.
  • Siding (Fibrolite products, for example) and cladding for interior and exterior walls (such as the backing on some old brick cladding popular in the 1970s).
  • In fibro sheets under the eaves, so be careful when renovating as it will release dangerous fibres if you break it (today modern fibro does not contain asbestos).
  • Asbestos thermal boards around old fireplaces – when removing these they must be handled using safety precautions as they will release airborne fibres when you disturb them.
  • Gaskets around old fireplace doors – worn asbestos gaskets release dangerous fibres when worn and still in use.
  • Old artificial embers and ash, some old hairdryers, old fencing, ironing board covers, stove top covers, glues and fireproof gloves were made containing asbestos for its fire resistance.

There is no one place in Australia you can be safely confident of buying a property without asbestos in it if built before 1990. Australia began phasing out production of asbestos products in the 1980s with asbestos flat sheeting phased out between 1981 and 1983, corrugated products in 1985, asbestos pipes in 1987, and brake pads and brake lining in 2003.

Asbestos is completely banned in Australia. No new materials containing asbestos are allowed into the country. However, as recently as 2015 a Senate enquiry found building products imported from China contained white asbestos and dozens of building sites were contaminated with these imports. Authorities are now working with the installers to remove all imported products that contain asbestos.

Asbestos is slowly being removed from Australian homes as people renovate, demolish and rebuild, but it will be many years before Australia has cleaned up asbestos completely. But, its health effects will be a reminder of the devastating effects of Australia’s history of asbestos use.

 

By |2017-08-15T06:35:17+10:00September 5th, 2016|Asbestos News|Comments Off on Where is Asbestos Commonly Found in Australia?

The dangers of removing Asbestos yourself 2016

The dangers of removing Asbestos yourself 2016

A dangerous legacy of the past, asbestos still remains a threat in many Australian homes. Australia’s housing industry boomed, and from the 1940s up until the late 1980s asbestos products were used in hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings around the country.

So, if your home was built before 1990, it is likely to contain asbestos of some sort. When planning to renovate or if you suspect asbestos in your home, there are dangers in removing asbestos yourself.

Asbestos products became popular because they were cost-effective, fire-resistant, strong and durable, and made new housing affordable. Australia finally banned the importing, using or reusing, selling, manufacturing, supplying or storage of asbestos products of any sort after the negative effects of asbestos became known.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos generically refers to fibrous silicate materials existing naturally in certain environments. These tiny natural fibres are up to 200 times finer than our hair and can drift in the atmosphere for a long time. They are invisible and you can inhale them into your lungs. In the 1990s doctors began reporting health concerns surrounding people in contact and working with asbestos

Mining these materials was popular for many years to meet the high demand for asbestos products, particularly in the building industry. Asbestos cement was commonly used in fibro sheeting, corrugated roof sheeting, downpipes, water pipes, gutters, drains and roof shingles, and coverings for electrical wires.

Dangers of asbestos

It is almost impossible to avoid exposure to asbestos at some time your life, but risks from exposure are small for most people. The dangers of asbestos use were unknown until doctors began seeing asbestos workers with medical problems related to asbestos too often. Eventually scientific knowledge found the tiny asbestos fibres and dust inhaled into the lungs by asbestos workers were causing life threatening illnesses.

Disturbing asbestos creates fibres and dust can be easily inhaled. When breathed in, it breaks downs into minute pieces to puncture the lining around the lungs to embed itself there forever. The human body cannot remove asbestos from the system, and can cause:

  • mesothelioma
  • asbestosis
  • lung cancer
  • cancer in the intestinal tract
  • pleural plaques.

Help! I think I have asbestos.

If you suspect you have asbestos in your home or building, do not disturb or remove it until you have more information. You can risk the health of your family, friends and neighbours. Undamaged asbestos poses no threat so do not panic. But if it is deteriorating, breaking down or is in generally poor condition then this is a health threat to your family and, possibly, your neighbours.

More than 2,000 people a year are still being diagnosed with asbestos related diseases in Australia. Asbestos affects people in different ways. Some people contract mesothelioma after only a brief exposure to the fibres, others after long periods of exposure, and some people get sick decades after removing it from their homes or washing the clothes of asbestos workers. While you can remove asbestos from your home following strict removal guidelines, you are best to seek the advice of a professional asbestos removalist.

Important things to remember if you suspect the presence of asbestos:

  • Exposure to asbestos fibres is never safe.
  • Asbestos that is deteriorating or broken releases fibres and fine dust into the air which you may inhale.
  • Breathing asbestos fibres into your lungs can cause life-threatening diseases such a mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
  • There is no cure for mesothelioma and the rate of its diagnosis is rising.
  • The length of exposure to asbestos fibres is relative to your risk of contracting a related health issue.
  • Asbestos related diseases lie dormant for 20 to 30 years before symptoms develop.

Always take safety precautions if working or handling asbestos, and talk to professionals for the best advice!

By |2017-08-03T02:20:22+10:00August 9th, 2016|Asbestos News|Comments Off on The dangers of removing Asbestos yourself 2016

Replacing your Asbestos Filled Roof

Many houses around Brisbane have asbestos roofing when built many years ago. This puts home owners and their families at risk of breathing in asbestos fibres. As asbestos roof material deteriorates it releases toxic fibres into the air.

Asbestos was a common building material in the early days in Brisbane. Since then its toxicity has come to light. Breathing in its fibres can cause serious illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. In 2001, asbestos was designated as a hazardous substance with the government bringing in legislation for the safe handling of the material. Brisbane residents must rely on licenced expert for asbestos roofing replacement.

Call in the experts

Not just anyone can complete an asbestos roof replacement. You cannot just get up onto the roof to remove asbestos yourself. Doing this could put yourself, and anyone in the immediate vicinity at risk of asbestos contamination. Call in asbestos specialists to remove the roof. Removing asbestos is risky business. Asbestos experts assess your roof, and carry out the controlled removal of the old asbestos roof ready for a roof replacement.

Asbestos identification

During Brisbane’s early building boom, builders commonly used either asbestos corrugated roofing sheets or tiles for the roofs of new houses. The asbestos used in Australian buildings is white asbestos. It was cheap, and easy to get and to use. Never did they realise the danger the material posed as it aged decades later.

Steps for removing asbestos from your roof

Asbestos roof replacement is an important step towards securing your family’s safety. Replacing asbestos from Brisbane building roofs is a difficult process. But, the professionals have the right equipment and expert knowledge to:

  1. Stabilise the asbestos. Asbestos fibers can break free even with careful handling. For safety reasons, PVA glue is sprayed over the roof at the start of the job. When this coating dries, it ensures that any loose asbestos fibers do not break loose during the removal process.
  2. Remove the screws. All screws holding the asbestos to the roof are loosened and removed.
  3. Remove equipment installed on the roof. Many Brisbane homes have an air conditioner and solar panels installed on the roof. These need careful removal before removing the asbestos.
  4. Remove the asbestos. Because of the fragile nature of asbestos, roof removalists cannot risk breaking the sheets or tiles. Breaking them risks poisonous fibers entering into the environment for others to breathe in. We carefully lower the asbestos either by hand or using a mechanical life.
  5. Wrapping the asbestos. Asbestos disintegrates very easily when handled roughly so we wrap it in special plastic and seal it before removing it from the site. This ensures the worksite remains safe from contamination.
  6. Clean the roof. The roof is thoroughly cleaned, including the ceiling space and walls, using industrial strength vacuum cleaners. It is important to remove all traces of asbestos fibres now the asbestos has gone.
  7. Seal the roof. After careful removal of the asbestos and thorough clean, there is still a risk of unseen fibers lurking in ceiling, wall and roof spaces. Again, we spray a coat of PVA glue to stabilise any unseen fragments left behind. This gives home owners peace of mind.

For safe asbestos roof replacement, you need to start with a clean space. Once the asbestos is gone, and the roof area stabilised, you can have a new roof of any material of your choice installed.

If you need an asbestos roof replaced in Brisbane, it may now be time to act. You do not want an asbestos roof to compromise the safety of you and your family, or the environment you live in.

By |2017-08-15T06:51:36+10:00February 24th, 2016|Asbestos News|Comments Off on Replacing your Asbestos Filled Roof