Renovation Rescue: The Asbestos Edition

As the media continues to showcase their home renovation content. DIY projects are now being adapted by a lot of homeowners to help maintain their residential properties in Australia. This may be the first time for most, however many have been inspired to take on these projects to further improve their homes.

Machinery such as sledgehammers or power tools is hazardous equipment to handle, as these can cause unwanted accidents or casualties. Asbestos on the other hand reduces the exposure to risks and dangers at home.

Providing you with information is the best help contact occupational hygiene specialists can offer. Preparation is key, especially in the world of DIY home renovation projects.


What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a strong naturally occurring mineral that consists of silicate fibers that have a high resistance to fire, heat, and chemicals. It is mined from rocks and serves many purposes including insulation.

Asbestos is a common building material that contain minerals (ACMs). These minerals come in two types, those being friable and non-friable.

Non-Friable, also known as bonded asbestos materials, are solid materials where asbestos fibers are mixed with an adhesive product and not able to be crumbled, pulverized, or broken by hand, like cement sheeting commonly used for eaves. The ones that are easily broken down into dust once light pressure is applied are called friable asbestos. These are sometimes used in roof cavities and walls. Friable asbestos materials usually contain a higher percentage of asbestos than bonded materials.


Renovation Rescue: The Asbestos Edition


When was asbestos used?

After world war II, up to the 1990s was when asbestos was commonly used in Australian buildings. However, asbestos-free alternatives were established, which then decreased the asbestos building materials in the 1980s. This was when asbestos-related illnesses began to increase over time.

December 31st of 2003 was when asbestos was officially on a ban from sale, use, or manufacture of the material.

Why exactly was asbestos banned? Why is it bad?

The consumption of asbestos via swallowing or breathing of the microscopic fibers can cause several illnesses such as Asbestosis, Lung Cancer, and Mesothelioma. Since the particles are not visible to the naked eye, it is important to always be cautious when entering an area that contains asbestos, since we cannot be fully aware that we are inhaling the material. The symptoms related to the illnesses have a long latency period, meaning that they may not show for a long time after exposure.

Where might asbestos be in my home?

Asbestos was commonly used in homes located in Australia until the 1980s, that was until it was completely banned in 2003. The likelihood of a home containing asbestos would be from the 1950s until the 90s, this eventually decreased in 1990 to 2003. Any home built from January 1st, 2004 should not contain any more asbestos, as it was banned from this point on.

Asbestos was versatile and is used in homes differently. Some of the types of asbestos-containing materials used in the housing and construction industry include:

  1. Fibre Cement Sheeting
  1. Loose-Fill Insulation
  1. Low-Density Fibre Boards
  1. Vinyl Floor Tiles and Covering
  1. Corrugated Cement Sheeting
  1. Adhesives
  1. Compressed High-Density Floor Sheets
  1. Cement Moulded Products

Due to its ability to withstand heat, erosion, decay, and water damage, many bathrooms, laundry, and kitchens. Asbestos was used for construction, both for indoor and outdoor usage.


Renovation Rescue: The Asbestos Edition


How do I know if my home has asbestos?

Asbestos may be difficult to identify, especially if you are not an expert in the field of building materials. It can often look similar to other asbestos-free alternatives. However, there are a few techniques you can use to help identify authentic asbestos in your homes.

The first thing you should do is to take note of when your house was built, if it was built after 2003, then you have nothing to worry about since it was banned from that point onward. However, if your home was built prior to the 1990s, then the chances of your home containing asbestos just increased.

It would be best to first contact a professional in identifying asbestos in your home. Greenlight offers residential asbestos inspections that are conducted by tertiary qualified asbestos assessors. Our NATA accredited lab will take samples from your area for testing. Within 48 hours, the result shall be released. This method makes it safer since the service will be the ones conducting the tests while following certain protocols.


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