Do you have an asbestos related question? It may be one of our Asbestos FAQ’s listed below.
If your question is not on the list, please feel free to contact us and our experienced staff will be happy to answer them.
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring silicate minerals that is mined from the ground. Chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite fibers are the most common types of asbestos minerals.
Asbestos was used in building materials in the mid-to-late-20th century, until around the late-1990s, when the health risks associated with asbestos became known. It was a very popular building material because of its desirable properties, such as its strength, flexibility and resistance to heat, fire and friction. However, asbestos is made up of extremely fine fibres, and when airborne, these can be inhaled and become lodged in the lungs, potentially causing severe health issues.
The use of asbestos as a building material ceased after its health risks became known, but it is still present in many buildings today.
Asbestos fibres themselves are not visible to the naked eye, but many materials contain it. Asbestos has been used in many different building materials, making it difficult to identify all potential sources in the home or workplace. The only certain way to identify all sources of asbestos is with thorough sampling, and testing of those samples in a lab.
Asbestos is the leading cause of an aggressive cancer called mesothelioma. Asbestos fibres, when inhaled, can lodge in the lungs and remain there for life. These fibres can cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing, and eventually result in cancer and other chronic conditions like asbestosis. The scarred tissue impairs the ability of the lungs and heart to adequately provide oxygen to the body. This is a serious disease, and can eventually lead to disability or death in people exposed to high amounts of asbestos.
Asbestos-related diseases do not appear immediately, but may develop 20 to 50 years after exposure.
Asbestos can enter the environment from weathered natural mineral deposits and fibre releases arising from manmade asbestos products. Asbestos may be found in products like floor tiles, roof shingles, cement, and automotive brakes. Electrical, plumbing, acoustical, and structural insulation applications are also very common.
Asbestos fibres are released into the air when these products are disturbed.
The only way to be sure whether a material contains asbestos is to have it tested by a qualified laboratory. Xava Consultants recommends testing suspect materials if they are damaged (fraying, crumbling) or if you are planning a renovation that would disturb the suspect material. Samples should be taken by a properly trained and accredited asbestos surveyor.
There is no way to know whether these materials contain asbestos without having them tested. If you are concerned those materials in your home or workplace may contain asbestos and the materials are damaged (frayed, falling apart) or if you are performing a renovation that will disturb the material, consult with an accredited asbestos surveying company.
As a general rule, if the building was constructed before 2000, it is likely that it will contain asbestos in some form. Buildings constructed between the late 1940s and 1980s are very likely to contain asbestos.
Asbestos was commonly used in materials including:
- Textured ceilings
- Corrugated roofing sheets
- Cement boards
- Pipe lagging
However there are also a great many other asbestos containing materials (ACMs) that are frequently found in buildings, and are much harder to identify.
Not necessarily. Undamaged asbestos that is properly managed poses little health risk to occupants. However, it is important that the condition of asbestos-containing materials are inspected regularly to ensure they remain intact.
Asbestos can pose a health hazard when it is disturbed and asbestos fibres become airborne where they can be inhaled. Undamaged non-friable asbestos is best left undisturbed and managed in place. If done improperly, removing asbestos has the potential to create a greater health risk than leaving it undisturbed.
If asbestos is undamaged and in good condition, it may not pose an immediate risk to health. It is only when the fibres are released into the air that asbestos poses serious health risks. So most of the time it may not be necessary to have asbestos removed, unless the asbestos is likely to be disturbed through renovation work or demolition.
If you are planning to undertake renovation or demolition work on an older building, it’s extremely important that you investigate the presence of asbestos first. If asbestos is present, its safe removal must be carefully planned and carried out, to protect people and the environment.
If you’re in any doubt about asbestos being a risk, you should call an asbestos assessor for advice.
An asbestos management plan is required to provide documentation of the recommended asbestos response actions, the location of asbestos within the building, and any action taken to repair or remove the material. The PCBU or person responsible for the property must maintain records to be included in the Asbestos Management Plan.
Mould & Moisture TestingThe presence of fungal spores and mould in the home or workplace can carry real health risks if left unresolved.
Lead TestingLead paint is extremely hazardous if it is not identified and dealt with correctly, especially prior to carrying out refurbishment work.
Asbestos SurveysXava Consultants provide a comprehensive surveying service to check for the presence of asbestos in suspect materials. We can test single samples or complete full residential or commercial surveys.
Management PlansDo you own or manage a commercial building? The Health & Safety at work regulations were updated in 2016, meaning it is now a legal requirement to have an asbestos Management Plan in place.