What is asbestos?
Asbestos is part of the naturally occurring family of silica minerals.
The 3 main types of commercial asbestos used in Western Australia were:
- chrysotile (white asbestos)
- amosite (brown asbestos)
- crocidolite (blue asbestos)
Asbestos was processed and mixed with various materials to produce a variety of products.
Asbestos in building products
Asbestos was added to building products to increase their strength, durability, fire resistance, flexibility and insulation properties. It is commonly found in:
- asbestos cement roofs and eaves
- indoor and outdoor asbestos cement wall sheeting
- external feature cladding materials
- asbestos cement fencing
- paper backing material on sheet linoleum
- backing panels in meter boxes
- textured paints – especially in wet areas
- vinyl floor tiles
- thermal insulation boards around fireplaces
- gaskets and rope door seal in wood stoves.
The most common product used in residential properties is asbestos cement. Asbestos cement products typically contain 10-15% asbestos.
When was asbestos banned?
In Australia the use of asbestos was phased out in the manufacture of building products through the late 70s to early 80s.
What can asbestos do to you?
Prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibres has been linked to several types of lung disease including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Not all asbestos-related lung disease is cancerous.
How much Asbestos exposure is bad for you?
Asbestos cement products pose negligible risk to health when they are in good condition and undisturbed. However, homeowners must take precautions when removing the products, renovating or doing maintenance works.
When is asbestos exposure bad for you?
When asbestos particles are breathed in. When the product is left alone, there are no particles in the air. It gets in to the air when it is broken, cut, sawn or otherwise disturbed. Damaged areas should be proprly sealed to enclose the fibres.
How do I identify asbestos?
This is something best left to the experts. If you are buying or renovating a house built prior to 1983, ask that asbestos containing products be assessed as part of a building inspection. We include this check as part of our pre-purchase building inspections.
What happens if there is asbestos found in my home?
The best approach to reduce asbestos exposure is to leave material that is in condition alone. If you require it to be removed – consult a suitably qualified expert who will remove and dispose of it properly.