Everything You Need To Know About Asbestos Lisa January 1, 2021

Everything You Need To Know About Asbestos

Asbestos is now one of the leading concerns when renovating or purchasing an older home in Australia – so what should you know about working with this material?

In Australia, asbestos cement materials were first manufactured in the 1920’s. Asbestos was once considered to be a very useful mineral because it is flexible, strong, affordable and can insulate from heat and electricity. Because of this, it was commonly used in the construction of homes and buildings.

However, by the late 1970’s, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation produced a series of programs focusing on asbestos awareness and the long lasting effects this mineral had on workers exposed to it, predominantly in the building, construction and mining industries. The publicity around the campaign leads to increased awareness, and eventually a political investigation into the impacts of asbestos exposure. 

Because it is so hard to destroy asbestos fibres, the human body cannot break them down or remove them once they are lodged in lung or body tissues. The fragments therefore remain lodged in places where they can cause disease, with the three most prominent being asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

From 31 December 2003, the total ban on manufacture, use, reuse, import, transport, storage or sale of all forms of asbestos came into force. However, a significant number of Australians are still trying to safely deal with this mineral in older homes and structures – so what do you need to know about working around asbestos?

Working With Asbestos In Australia 

The Australian Department of Health has stated that approximately one-third of Australian homes contain asbestos in one form or another. As a general rule of thumb, if a house, dwelling or building was built prior to 1990, it is likely to have been constructed with asbestos based materials. 

Asbestos materials can be divided into two groups – non-friable and friable. Non-friable products were more common in households, as they are essentially asbestos materials mixed in with other materials such as cement, in order to provide the overall product with the asbestos beneficial properties. The most common asbestos-containing products that were bonded or mixed with cement include: 

  • Roofing sheets
  • Shingles and siding
  • Interior and exterior wall cladding
  • Fencing
  • Thermal boards around fireplaces
  • Water or flue pipes
  • Eaves

In addition, there are also a number of friable (raw fibres that are easily exposed or released) asbestos products that can be found on residential properties. The most common of these include: 

  • Loose fill insulation such as Mr Fluffy
  • Asbestos rope door gaskets in wood stoves
  • Spray on insulation or sound proofing
  • Low density asbestos fibre board
  • Textured paints and decorative ceiling coatings
  • Carpet underlay
  • Insulation on hot water pipes, heaters and stoves
  • Backing material on floor tiles and vinyl flooring
  • Heat resistant fabric
  • Brick and plaster sealants
  • Damaged, worn and aged bonded asbestos materials

The removal of asbestos materials from homes and workplaces have different obligations under a wide variety of current laws in Australia. The removal should only be done with specific care to avoid the release of asbestos fibres into the air.

Home renovators and owner-builders must hold a certificate obtained under arrangements approved or established by Queensland Health to remove more than ten square metres of non-friable (also known as bonded) asbestos materials.

Where To Get Help With Removing Asbestos

If you lack the confidence to remove any potential asbestos materials yourself, or you simply want to play it safe, then it’s always worth speaking to building industry professionals – ideally, before you commence the removal of any walls or structures. 

In operation for over ten years, Brisbane based Kibo Constructions believe that quality, reliable workmanship with an honest approach shouldn’t be the exception to the rule. By working closely with our clients, we ensure that the entire process is both a transparent and enjoyable experience from start to finish – after all, undertaking a home renovation project of any size shouldn’t be painful. 

If you know that there’s an upcoming project coming up for you, your brand or your business, we would love the opportunity to provide a quote – you might be pleasantly surprised at the result. As we specialise in residential, commercial and hospitality fitout options in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, please get in touch to discuss how we can bring your vision to life. 

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