One of the most commonly asked questions in Australia is “Which products contain asbestos?”
There are two primary reasons.
One, asbestos is terrifyingly dangerous to your health as it can cause lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. Two, Australia was one of the leading users of the mineral until the manufacture, use, reuse, import and sale of all forms of asbestos products was banned in December 2003.
Some Friable asbestos products were commonly used in commercial, industrial and residential structures from the late 1800s and may still be found in buildings built before 1990. In Australia, non-friable asbestos cement materials bonded were first manufactured in the 1920s and were commonly used from the mid-1940s until the late 1980s. With that in mind, you should easily conclude that most of the older houses, apartments, and buildings were made of this hazardous mineral. Furthermore, most of them still stand to this day.
You may be already exposed to it without even knowing.
Although only a few select types of products use this mineral, it is still in your best interest to know which is which to avoid contact with it as much as possible.
Asbestos in Construction Products
The most common and readily found asbestos-containing materials can be found in:
- Exterior and Interior Wall cladding
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Flexible ducting
- Corrugated paper
- Construction mastics and gunning mix
Asbestos has been with us since ancient times as a material to strengthen pots and other cooking utensils. It was also primarily used as an extra component for construction materials. That is all due to its fire-resistant nature, making it alluring for manufacturers and contractors. Most of all, this mineral is incredibly inexpensive, giving everyone no excuse not to utilise it.
Asbestos in Auto Parts
It is also fairly common to find asbestos in vehicles today, even though most countries have banned this mineral. These are:
- Hood Liners
- Brake pads
- Engine components
- Heat seals
General Asbestos Containing Products
Aside from the two sections above, there are also some products that you should be aware of even if these products are not easy to encounter. Take note that not all of manufacturers of these products use asbestos, especially today. These are:
- High-temp textile
- Fireman’s blanket, suit, and rope
- Cigarette filters
- Electric Panels
- Stage curtains
Who Are the Victims of Asbestos?
Everyone is a victim as it can be found almost everywhere. However, some specific individuals are more exposed to it than the average Joe. These are:
- Fire-fighters: fire can quickly damage asbestos-containing materials that make its fibres airborne. Firemen may accidentally inhale these toxic fibres during duty.
- Construction workers: as stated above, some building products are made out of this dangerous substance. Although asbestos-containing materials are exceptionally rare these days, it was very common for the past few decades. Thus, renovators and demolition crews may be faced with them when working with older buildings.
- Industrial workers: those who work at a manufacturing plant that focuses on creating automotive parts or vinyl and linoleum may be at risk.
- Shipyard workers: most Navy ships and merchant ships are heavily enforced with asbestos insulation to prevent ship fire and control engine heat. Overtime, ships have to be maintained and, again, reinforced with new insulation. Taking out the old insulation panels and parts significantly expose most of the workers to extremely high amounts.
- Power plantation workers: almost every power plant in the world relies on asbestos to make sure their pipes are properly insulated. Workers are often responsible for keeping them in good condition, and part of it is to cut old pipes and replace them with new ones.
What ended the Legal use of Asbestos?
Even though asbestos has provided humankind with an abundant, affordable supply of fireproofing agent, it also had its major drawbacks – health issues. Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that can be found almost everywhere in our environment. However, we are only exposed to it at exceptionally low doses, which pose no harm to humans. But when it comes to manufactured asbestos products that are merely within arm’s reach, being in contact with it can cause deadly lung diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Most often, these terrible conditions do not occur instantly, and some may even take as long as 20 years to surface.
Today, most countries worldwide banned all asbestos-containing materials. However, there are exceptions such as automotive parts, especially brake pads, which are deemed necessary for the mineral to be used.