Asbestos: you might’ve heard the term thrown about in conversations regarding health hazards and housing materials. A silent predator that lay dormant in countless Australian homes, it carries a frightening history. This post will delve into its grim past, learn how to identify it, and understand the necessary steps to ensure our homes and health aren’t at risk.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring silicate minerals, including Chrysotile, Amosite, and Crocidolite. Each type shares a unique fibrous nature—thin, durable, and resistant to heat, electricity, and corrosion. These attributes made asbestos a popular choice in various industries, especially housing construction.
The History of Asbestos in Australian Homes
Buckle up, mates, ’cause this history isn’t a pretty one. Asbestos was hailed as a “miracle mineral” in the 20th century. Its impressive durability and resistance to fire made it an ideal material for Australian homes. Unfortunately, the health-related implications weren’t fully grasped until much later.
By the time regulations were introduced and the use of asbestos was completely banned in 2003, it was too late. Millions of homes across Australia had already been built with asbestos-containing materials. The legacy issues related to asbestos are still very much prevalent today.
Health Risks Associated with Asbestos Exposure
We’re not going to beat around the bush—exposure to asbestos is seriously bad news. When disturbed, asbestos fibres can be inhaled and trapped in the lungs, causing diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. Scary, right? What’s more, these diseases often show symptoms years, even decades after exposure. It’s a ticking time bomb that none of us want ticking in our homes.
Identifying Asbestos in Your Home
If you’re now a bit on edge, thinking, “Crikey, how do I know if I’ve got asbestos?”, we’ve got your back. Asbestos isn’t easy to spot, it doesn’t come with a handy label, so it’s crucial to know where it might be lurking.
Typically, asbestos might be found in roofing, cladding, fencing, thermal boards around fireplaces, and in the backing of vinyl and linoleum floor coverings. It can also be hidden in the bathrooms and kitchens, especially in the wall linings, floor underlays and adhesives.
What to Do if You Suspect or Find Asbestos in Your Home
Should you suspect asbestos in your home, the golden rule is: don’t touch it. Disturbing it may release those dangerous fibres. Instead, it’s time to call in the pros. Professional services can provide an assessment, and if confirmed, safely remove the asbestos according to Australian Asbestos regulations.
Prevention and Safety Measures
Let’s be clear here, folks: if you’re planning some DIY renovations, don’t cut corners with safety. Any drilling, cutting, sanding, or scrapping might disturb asbestos, if present. Stick to these tips: before any work, get your home checked by a professional; if you accidentally disturb any material suspected to be asbestos, stop work immediately and get it tested.
How to Manage Asbestos in Your Home
Dealing with asbestos is no walk in the park, and ignorance can cost dearly. It’s not about creating a scare, but about preparing homeowners to respond effectively if they encounter it.
First things first: don’t ever attempt to handle or remove asbestos-containing materials on your own. Asbestos removal is a job for licensed professionals who know how to do it safely. Always consult with professional asbestos services if you suspect there’s asbestos in your home.
Professionals will conduct an asbestos survey to confirm the presence of the material. They’ll sample suspicious materials without disturbing them and have these samples tested in a lab.
If asbestos is detected, the next step is safe and controlled removal. In some cases, they may suggest leaving it undisturbed if it poses no immediate threat. Remember, asbestos is only dangerous when its fibres become airborne.
Living Safely with Asbestos in Your Home
Let’s face it: removing asbestos from every Australian home would be a monumental task, and in some cases, it might be safer to leave it where it is. If asbestos is in a good condition and it’s located where it won’t be disturbed, the best course of action might be to simply let it be.
However, living safely with asbestos requires routine check-ups to ensure the material is still in good condition. Any signs of wear or damage should be addressed immediately by professionals.
Safe Renovation Practices
Eager DIY enthusiasts, listen up! If you’re living in a home built before the 1990s, there’s a chance you could come across asbestos during your renovations. Here are some pointers for a safe makeover:
- Have your property checked by a professional before you start.
- Don’t perform work that could disturb asbestos-containing materials.
- Always wear a P2 rated mask when renovating, even if you’re not aware of any asbestos.
In short, always prioritise safety. Renovations can wait, but health hazards won’t.
This isn’t something to dilly-dally about. Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to asbestos exposure. Ensuring our homes are safe from this silent danger is paramount. So let’s tackle it head-on. Let’s be vigilant and proactive in spotting asbestos and take necessary actions to rid our homes of it. After all, home is where our heart is—it’s where we should feel the safest.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the health risks of asbestos exposure?
Exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to several health problems such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. These illnesses typically surface years, or even decades, after exposure.
How can I identify asbestos in my home?
Asbestos can often be found in roofing, cladding, thermal boards around fireplaces, and in bathrooms and kitchens. However, it is tough to identify visually. We highly recommend seeking a professional service for definitive identification.
Can I remove asbestos by myself?
Absolutely not. Disturbing asbestos can release dangerous fibres into the air. Only licensed professionals should handle asbestos removal.
Is it always necessary to remove asbestos?
Not always. If the asbestos-containing material is in good condition and not in a place where it will be disturbed, it may be safer to leave it in place. Regular monitoring is necessary in this case.
What safety measures should be followed during home renovations?
Before starting any renovation work, get your home checked by a professional. Avoid any work that could disturb asbestos-containing materials. Always use personal protective equipment, including a P2 rated mask.