Are you sure you don’t have Asbestos in your home?

With the TV show of The Block on air, DIY renos around the house are expected to be on an all-time high.  It also gets the spotlight back on the old concern of exposure to Asbestos. It’s good to keep in mind, that one in three Australian homes still contain deadly Asbestos.

Asbestos cement products were commonly manufactured from the early 1920s to 1987 therefore extreme caution must be exercised with homes built before 1987. Asbestos was extensively used as a construction material from the 1920s, through to the post-World War II housing boom and right up to the mid-1980s.  With that in mind we always suggest taking extreme caution with any house built before 1987.

Where can you find Asbestos?

Asbestos may be present in a number of building materials used around the home. These include the exterior walls, internal walls (especially in wet areas), fencing, roofing, shingles and siding, eaves, backing material on floor tiles and vinyl flooring and water or flue pipes.

Although not everyone who comes into contact with Asbestos will get sick, it’s important to keep in mind that for some, very low exposure is enough to trigger the disease.

Australia is the world’s largest per capita user of Asbestos and as a direct consequence, we have one of the highest incidence rates of Mesothelioma in the world.

How can you identify Asbestos?

Ientify bonded or non-friable Asbestos is to use the Enviroscience Asbestos testing kit. The Enviroscience Asbestos test kit which instructs you on the correct and safe way to take a sample of the suspect material and offers a free postage testing service that is NATA Approved.  You can download the Asbestos test kit here.

What is malignant Mesothelioma?

Malignant mesothelioma is a painful and invariably deadly cancer which is caused by the inhalation of Asbestos fibres.

Australia is now seeing a ‘third wave’ of people being diagnosed with Mesothelioma. The ‘first wave’ consisted of miners and manufacturers. This was followed by the ‘second wave’ of construction workers, carpenters and other trades people exposed to Asbestos fibers from building materials. Tragically, the ‘third wave’ of home handy people are now being diagnosed with this deadly disease – with those being exposed to existing Asbestos products in the home while carrying out renovations or maintenance.

Despite years of public awareness campaigns, this type of third wave exposure is becoming increasingly common. Research has indicated that in Queensland alone there were on average 169 mesothelioma cases per year in 2012, a significant rise from 17 per year in the 1980s.

Original article appeared in Slater and Gordon blog, 23rd August 2016

Asbestos Building Materials, why was it used?

Large-scale mining of Asbestos began at the end of the 19th century. Manufacturers and builders began using Asbestos for its desirable physical properties: sound absorption, average tensile strength, resistance to fire, heat, electricity, and affordability. Regional Enviroscience also provides as well as the risk assessment a scope of works for the contractors on-site to ensure that remediation works are carried out safely and in accordance with current legislation.

Juliet Duffy holds a Master of Sustainable Management from Sydney University, is a Licensed Asbestos Assessor and has been managing environmental health issues since 1988. Juliet is Director of Regional Enviroscience – an NATA Accredited Asbestos & hazardous materials laboratory and occupational health consultancy based in regional NSW – Hunter Valley, Central NSW and the Riverina.