Asbestos is a material that was commonly used in construction within Australia up until its ban in the mid-1980’s and full ban in 2003, and this ban was implemented because of the adverse health effects it had on the general public and workers who mined, built with and utilised the material. There is still plenty of asbestos left in Australian homes, businesses, piping and schools, so the question is, is asbestos affecting your life?
When Was It Built?
The first thing to think about when considering if asbestos is affecting you or your family is to look at when your home, business or school was built. Homes built before the mid-1980’s have a high chance of containing some form of asbestos so if your property was built before this time then asbestos is most likely present somewhere. Where? Asbestos was used in many places, but in homes, it was primarily used (but not limited to) in the construction of:
- Sealants for vinyl flooring
- Plaster Walls
- Also, insulation
How Do You Know?
The best way to know if you have asbestos on your property is to get it professionally tested. Accredited professionals can come to you for this, and they can take samples safely of any suspected asbestos and take them to a NATA accredited laboratory for proper testing. This testing is often complete in under 24 hours however multiple samples may take longer to test fully. When testing is complete, your asbestos professional will contact you and inform you if they have found any asbestos, talk you through any risks you may currently face and then discuss your options for dealing with the asbestos. If you suspect there is asbestos in your school or your child’s school, then you can ask to look at the school asbestos management plan and annual asbestos report which should be available to the general public and must be completed by an accredited professional.
What Can You Do?
You’ve got your home or businesses test back, and you have asbestos present, now what? Well, it’s essential for you to know all your options and know which option suits your situation and budget aside from asbestos removal. Other options include:
Enclosing the asbestos involves an accredited professional enclosing the asbestos in an airtight container (Primarily made of wood and plastic sheeting) to ensure no fibres are released into the air to be inhaled. This is not a long-term option for most people, however, how do you live in a home when it’s full of plastic sheeting? This is a good option if the asbestos is dangerous and you need to be in the home if you want to think over your options or have to acquire the money for another option.
Leaving the Asbestos
Believe it or not, some asbestos can be left where it is, if the asbestos is in a good enough condition and undamaged then it poses no dangers or harm to you as asbestos is only dangerous when the fibres are airborne and can be inhaled. However, it is recommended to check on the asbestos regularly and be extra careful around it to ensure no breakages or damage, and sometimes you can organise a professional to check on the asbestos to ensure its full safety regularly.
Encapsulating asbestos involves a professional using a sealant to seal the asbestos both on the surface and within the asbestos to ensure that if the asbestos is damaged or broken that the fibres will remain bonded and not become airborne to be inhaled. This is often a popular option for roofs as its often cheaper than a full removal and replacement and can give the appearance of a fresh coat of paint. This method can also be used for asbestos that would be too hazardous to remove; however, this option may not be available in some conditions as the asbestos may be too loose and could become airborne if sprayed.
However, if the asbestos is badly damaged, the only safest solution is asbestos removal. You need to call a professional for the job. You can search Asbestos Watch Brisbane if, for example, you live around Brisbane. Make sure you hire a licensed and reliable asbestos professional for the removal job.
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