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What Does Asbestos Look Like

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Asbestos

We’ve all heard the song Blue Sky Mine by Midnight Oil, it is a political piece that reminds us of the dangers of asbestos, asbestos mining, and how the mining giants were not protecting the Australian population from harmful elements.

 

Released in 1980, the song refers to the miners and residents of Wittenoom, and the blue asbestos that was mined there. Today the town is still so contaminated, that it’s been removed from the map, the residents relocated, and all access blocked.

 

This highlights how dangerous asbestos can be… But what is asbestos really, and where can you find it?

 

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural occurring silicate, and is composed of thin fibrous crystals. It’s these crystals that are the main cause for concern, as they can break apart in millions of microscopic fibrils once exposed. These fibrils cause lung conditions, including asbestosis and cancer.

 

Today, the use of asbestos is illegal, and in most first world countries, Australia included, it is already removed from most public buildings. Unfortunately, with the demolition and refurbishment of older buildings, workers are still finding traces of asbestos in the pipes, insulation and the construction of these older structures.

 

The reason we used asbestos in the first place, is mainly because of its qualities; asbestos is an excellent electrical insulator, it is highly heat resistant, and it was used almost everywhere in the building industry.

 

Asbestos was a wonder product in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, when production peaked, but once doctors found the connection tying exposure to asbestos and lung disease, or lung cancer, the product fell from grace.

 

Asbestos was banned in Australia in the late sixties, but by that time the damage was done, with almost two out of every three post war homes containing asbestos. Many still do, and unless disturbed, it is probably not a big concern.

 

The biggest issue posed by asbestos, is normally for the tradesmen and women who unknowingly attend to repair roofing, removing pipes, or simply work in the roof cavity. Because they work with these materials on a daily basis, it is essential that they can identify the risk early on.

 

 How to identify asbestos at a home?

Unfortunately, it is not that easy to identify asbestos simply by looking for it. To confirm if a home or building site is contaminated with asbestos products, a NATA accredited test will need to be conducted.

 

If you think there may be asbestos present, then you must treat it with the utmost respect and professional protocol. All friable asbestos must be removed by a Class A licenced asbestos remover.

 

There are a few steps you can take to confirm if it is indeed asbestos:

 

  • Visit the online Asbestos Product Database. This database offers a photo gallery featuring many of the common asbestos products commonly found in homes.
  • Download the Residential Asbestos Checklist for Tradies. This is a must have for any tradesman worth his salt.

 

 Asbestos Q and A

  1. Do I need to remove all asbestos from my home?
  2. No, if the asbestos products are in a good condition, and for asbestos cement sheeting (fibro), a good coat of paint will do the job of protecting you from any harmful dust.

 

  1. How do I know if my home contains asbestos?
  2. If your home was built before 1987, then it is likely that it will contain asbestos products.

 

  1. What are the common asbestos products around the house?
  2. There are many products that contain asbestos, with the most common being fibro sheeting used on internal walls and for cladding, electrical switchboards, water draining pipes, roof shingles and guttering, and some homes might still have asbestos insulation in the ceiling spaces.

 

  1. What is the best way to dispose of asbestos?
  2. Asbestos is classed as a toxic product, and councils have designated areas allocated for asbestos disposal. It is best to contact your local council before moving any asbestos products. It is advisable to always make use of a licenced asbestos removal company, as there are many rules to adhere to, and they will be aware of all the local legislation.

 

Asbestos is all around us, at home, school, at work, and in many industrial and commercial building sites. It is important that we do the right thing for our family, neighbours or staff.

 

Be prepared, and educate yourself with the importance of asbestos removal, asbestos soil remediation, asbestos disposal, and the best way to handle asbestos decontamination.

 

So, the next time you hear Midnight Oil singing Blue Sky Mine on the radio, think of the residents and miners of Wittenoom, the town and mine that inspired the song, and all the residents, miners and their families who suffered from asbestosis and other lung diseases.

 

Choosing your asbestos removalist

It really helps to know that asbestos can be safely removed and discarded by NATA accredited contractors.

 

The amount of asbestos, and type of asbestos, that can be removed by an asbestos removalist depends on the class of licence they carry.

 

The Class A asbestos removal licence allows for the removal of all asbestos containing materials, including friable (ACD), and non-friable asbestos (ACM).

 

The Class B asbestos removal licence lets holders remove all non-friable asbestos containing materials (ACM).

 

A contractor without a licence may only remove 10m2 of non-friable asbestos.

 

When in doubt, get a professional to investigate if your site is asbestos safe.

 

Luckily all modern homes and workplaces are now free from asbestos products, and we can live, and breathe safely. As for the older homes, we now have a better idea on how to be asbestos safe.

If you suspect that there might be asbestos, or traces of asbestos, on your property or building site, then contact us today, we are NATA accredited contractors. We are equipped with all the latest testing, collecting and removal equipment to successfully deal with your old asbestos products.

 

Our staff are fully trained and will follow all the necessary precautions to safeguard you, your family, staff and neighbours from any asbestos traces.

Why was asbestos banned in Australia?

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What is asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It forms part of six naturally occurring silicate minerals. All are composed of long and thin fibrous crystals, each fiber being composed of many microscopic ‘fibrils’ that can be released into the atmosphere by abrasion and other processes.

Asbestos was once used in our homes, structures, buildings, roofs, fences, pipes and more because it is strong, it insulates well from heat and electricity and was deemed affordable.

Common uses for asbestos

Asbestos had many uses, this naturally occurring mineral was an excellent electric insulator making it useful as insulation in electrical wiring in homes, factories, office buildings and more.

Asbestos was great at resisting heat and was commonly used in fire retardant coating for steel girders in buildings, thermal insulation for homes and offices, heat resistant gaskets and packing materials.

As a building material is was strong and flexible and was widely used throughout the world in roofing and flooring compounds, asbestos cement, drywall and plaster.

In certain parts of the world, as cars became more common its use in asphalt on roads was deemed appropriate for making roads more durable.

Health risks associated with asbestos

Records indicate that as early as 1897 an Austrian doctor referred to pulmonary troubles in one of his patients caused by asbestos dust. The first documented death of an asbestos worker was in 1906, the 33 year old male’s autopsy revealed large amounts of asbestos fibers in his lungs.

Reports of asbestos workers dying from “asbestosis” flooded news papers across the globe. Even insurance companies began decreasing coverage and benefits, while increasing premiums.

Exposure to asbestos is considered dangerous and working with asbestos has been proven to cause serious health issues. Studies have shown that exposure to asbestos causes malignant mesothelioma in humans and tumors in animals.

Asbestos use seized in Australia

Asbestos was mined in great quantities in Australia, the mining of asbestos created many jobs for Australians. Asbestos was mined until the mid-1980’s. Australia had one of the highest rates of asbestos use in the world.

After the discovery that asbestos is not viable for use in that it creates a health risk it was decided by government to ban the use of this hazardous substance.

The most efficient way to eliminate asbestos related disease is to stop the use of asbestos and remove it in a safe manner that will not impact surrounding humans, animals or property. Replacing asbestos solutions with safer substitutes should be regarded as high priority.

Asbestos was finally banned in Australia on the 31st of December 2003.

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Learn about safe asbestos removal

Asbestos Removal Services

Back in the 1970’s, until the mid-1980’s asbestos was a widely used material in the construction and renovation of houses in Australia. Given the prevalence of its use it is more than likely that it, if your property was constructed or renovated until 1987, may be present.

Once you have identified that asbestos is present in your property it is critical to commence the process of having it removed. This is particularly important if you intend to renovate the property. Jumping in and attempting to repair or renovate a property with asbestos is extremely dangerous and if asbestos fibres do happen to be released you will find yourself in trouble, both in regards to your health and financially. If identified, do not:

  • Use power tools
  • Use abrasive cutting or sanding discs
  • Use compress air
  • Use high pressure hoses
  • Walk on corrugated asbestos cement roofs as you may fall through the roof
  • Leave materials lying about where they can be disturbed

Experts state that ‘disturbing findings show that, despite repeated warnings, Australians are still not protecting themselves from asbestos-related diseases”. This study of around 860 individuals who had recently completed a DIY renovation, found that 61% stated that they had been exposed. Alarmingly, more than 20% stated that their children had been exposed. Don’t become a statistic!

The removal of asbestos from a property is covered by strict government regulation and code of practice that identifies the removal requirements and specifications for asbestos removal. If you are unaware of this code then that is a sure sign that you shouldn’t think about removing it yourself! It is important that you understand the need to engage a qualified and licensed professional, such as Asbestos Eliminator to look after the removal process for you.

A licensed professional will have the necessary qualifications, training and insurance to ensure you are protected. In addition to the regulatory requirements a licensed professional will have the necessary tools and experience to remove it safely, effectively and efficiently.

The process in removing asbestos is not as simple as chucking it into a rubbish tip. Once identified a professional will utilise high level safety equipment, carefully remove the asbestos and then action safe disposal of it.

Asbestos Eliminator has the necessary qualifications, expertise and experience in managing the entire asbestos removal process. Our integrated experience ensures we can identify, remove and dispose of the asbestos safely and effectively.

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What is asbestos and why was it used?

Are you looking to renovate your existing home or considering purchasing an old home with plans to ‘do it up’?
Well, if you are, and if the house was built prior to 1990’s, there is a chance that it may contain some form of asbestos product. Understanding what asbestos is and then how to find it is a huge consideration prior to commencing any form of renovation or construction work. This blog, written by Asbestos Eliminator Managing Director, Jake Zangara, will provide you with some useful knowledge and tips which should assist in understanding and the identifying your potential asbestos risk!

What is asbestos?

Simply put, asbestos is a name given to six different, naturally occurring, fibrous minerals. It was a popular fibre within the manufacturing industry as it had very low treatment and refinement costs. Additionally, it had many excellent properties including;

  • High fire resistance
  • Excellent sound absorption
  • Low electrical conductivity
  • Significant chemical resistance

These attributes, in addition to the low manufacturing costs made it a cost effective way to solve many material design issues with regard to the housing sector. Understanding why it was a popular product within the manufacturing sector goes someway to explaining why it was so widely used. The health implications associated with asbestos inhalation are massive and largely went unnoticed as they do take a significant period of time to develop.

How does asbestos affect my health?

There are a number of asbestos related diseases associated with asbestos inhalation. The main ones include:

• Mesothelioma;
• pleural disease;
• mesothelioma,
• asbestosis; and
• cancer of the lung

These diseases will develop after inhalation or ingestion and cause major health issues and/or death. There are many well documented cases of asbestos related diseases that have played out in the media. One of the most well-known accounts is that of Bernie Banton who suffered and eventually died from mesothelioma.

How do I inhale or ingest asbestos?

One of the major causes of accidental inhalation or ingestion of asbestos is when the airborne fibres are disturbed either through wear and tear or via standard construction activities such as drilling or sanding, The level of asbestos fibre released into the air is dependent on what binding material binds the asbestos, the general state of it or the type of product that was utilised.

Some forms of asbestos do pose a much greater risk than others. The most common type of asbestos known to pose threats to health is that of friable asbestos. This form is generally soft and will crumble quite easily into a very fine material or dust. This was a popular manufacturing product used in the construction of insulation. The raised nature of the product allows for the fibre to easily become airborne,

All asbestos must be considered dangerous to your health. If you would like Asbestos Eliminator to visit your property to conduct a visual check, free of charge, please call us or complete the contact us form.

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The importance of the safe asbestos disposal

Asbestos Removal Services

Up until the mid-80’s asbestos was a widely used element in a range of housing construction materials. Chances are that if your house was built or renovated before 1987 that your house will probably have asbestos as a part of its construction.

Identification and removal are the first steps in the asbestos elimination process but the final step is just as important as the first two and that is disposing of it safely.

The disposal of asbestos is governed by government legislation and each state has its own piece of legislation, for more information about disposing of asbestos in your state visit Asbestos Awareness.

Given the Asbestos Eliminator operates in Queensland it is important that homeowners contemplating an asbestos removal project in Queensland understand the actual process of disposing of asbestos.

Asbestos Disposal

When disposing of asbestos it is important to understand the danger of disturbing asbestos fibres, as soon as the fibres become airborne they can cause catastrophic health issues to yourself and anyone who is exposed to the airborne fibres.

After the asbestos has safely been removed it must be taken to a landfill site that can lawfully receive regulated waste, usually operated by a local council. Asbestos material cannot be disposed of in a domestic garbage bin or in standard garbage bags. The asbestos material must be double wrapped in 0.2mm thick plastic bags or sheeting, sealed with a strong tape and labelled ‘double wrapped’ and then transported safely to the site that can lawfully accept asbestos.  The other option is for the waste to be placed into a plastic lined industrial that has been provided by a waste contractor who has a regulated waste transport registration certificate.

As you can already see the asbestos disposal process is heavily regulated and there are major financial and legal consequences if the process is not followed correctly. In addition to the above there are different requirements for dealing with certain quantities of asbestos depending on whether you’re a homeowner or a contract (like me). For instance quantities over 250kg are subject to the regulated waste transport laws whilst quantities under 250kg are not.

Take the guesswork out of the disposal of your asbestos and use Asbestos Eliminators. We provide a detailed framework outlining our approach to the assessment, identification, removal and disposal of asbestos sheeting and roofing ensuring the safety of your family, your property and the community where the project is being undertaken.

Asbestos Eliminators hold a class B Licence and are authorised to remove more than 10 metres of non-friable asbestos or any asbestos contaminated dust or debris, more than enough to deal with your housing project!

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Welcome To Asbestos Eliminator Blog!

The Asbestos Eliminator Team is committed to providing our customers with the most relevant information required in selecting the right asbestos removal contractor. Asbestos removal is a very hazardous activity which could present significant risks to you, your family and the greater public if it is not managed correctly. This blog will provide you with key information and hopefully assist you in choosing the right person for your unique asbestos project!

Our team of experts have experience in providing a full-service asbestos offering in residential, commercial, industrial and natural resource settings.

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