Asbestos in your home? Check out these three risk factors

Approximately one third of all homes built in Australia contain Asbestos products so it’s important to be aware of the risk factors. These include:

1. When your house was built.

Asbestos containing building materials were manufactured in Australia up until at least the mid-1980s, so it is highly likely that your house contains Asbestos if it was constructed prior to that time.

Built before the mid-1980s: Highly likely to have Asbestos containing materials.
Built between the mid-1980s and 1990: Likely to have Asbestos containing materials.
Built after 1990: Unlikely to have Asbestos containing materials.

Asbestos containing building materials were manufactured in Australia up until at least the mid-1980s, so it is highly likely that your house contains Asbestos if it was constructed prior to that time.

2. The repair status of buildings.

The presence of Asbestos containing materials can pose a significant health risk, especially if a building is in a state of disrepair or weathered. Disturbing materials can also be a risk and some of the most common sources of Asbestos in the home or office include:

  • Roof sheeting
  • Guttering
  • Pipes and flues
  • Wall sheeting
  • Vinyl sheet flooring
  • Carpet and tile underlays
  • Imitation brick cladding
  • Fencing
  • Carports and sheds
  • Cement sheeting
  • Insulation
  • Concrete formwork

 

3. The source of the materials.

Asbestos has been banned in Australia since 31 December 2003, but it is still widely used in other countries around the world. It is illegal to import products containing Asbestos into Australia, but unfortunately, building materials laced with the deadly substances are still finding their way onto our shores. This is a threat to the safety of builders and home renovators alike, so it is incredibly important that people using imported, prefabricated building materials are certain of the quality and are aware that some Asbestos-free guarantees are not genuine.

The damage Asbestos can do is profound – Asbestosis, Mesothelioma and other related Dust Diseases have a harrowing effect on both the sufferer and their loved ones.

How to identify Asbestos.

Identify Asbestos using the Enviroscience Asbestos testing kit. Asbestos testing is undertaken using our in-house laboratory services, which are NATA accredited for Asbestos testing and identification using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) for bulk sample Asbestos analysis or Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) for air samples. 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 accredited. Download the Asbestos test kit here.

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.

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.

DIY renovators now most at risk of Asbestos cancers

A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia says the increase in the number of malignant mesothelioma cases in Western Australia over the past decade is the result of home renovation and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects involving building products containing Asbestos.

This domestic exposure has been described as part of the “third wave” of Asbestos-related diseases, the first being in miners, millers and transport workers, and the second in workers who used Asbestos products.

When did we first find out about the harmful effect Asbestos has on health?

The West Australian Mesothelioma Registry has recorded every case of mesothelioma that has occurred in the state ever since the start of the epidemic in the early 1960s.

What we’ve been looking at is where Asbestos exposure comes from. In the early period, the greatest proportion of the cases was people who were mining Asbestos in the Wittenoom Gorge in Western Australia’s Pilbara Region.

With time, the number of cases from Wittenoom has stayed fairly level because the mines in Wittenoom were closed in 1966. They‘re still happening but the number of people at risk is reducing.

The second wave of cases of mesothelioma was in people who’d been using Asbestos, such as carpenters and mechanics. Anybody who used Asbestos as part of their trade was at risk and those cases have been getting proportionally greater.

Now we’ve got a growing number of people who’ve been exposed through doing-it-yourself jobs at home. Like the others, the risk for people renovating or undertaking DIY projects is proportional to the amount of Asbestos they’re exposed to. There are lots of people out there who do their own little jobs at home and their individual risks are small but because of the large number of people doing this kind of thing, the number of cases has been increasing.

Where is this exposure coming from?

Asbestos was used a lot in the 1950s and 1960s as building material. And there’s nothing wrong with it as a building material, it’s just the health problems that we’re worried about. So there were lots of Asbestos roofs on houses, especially during this time but it reduced soon after because better materials came on board and the health risks started to be recognised. It’s those older houses that are most likely to contain Asbestos.

If people think there’s Asbestos in their house, they shouldn’t touch it, they should get it identified and if there’re going to remove it, they should take all the recommended precautions for removal. This is a preventable disease and avoiding exposure to Asbestos is the best way to avoid it.

How to Identify Asbestos 

Identify bonded and non-friable Asbestos samples with the Enviroscience Asbestos testing 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. Download the test kit for Asbestos here.

How can we avoid exposure?

There are regulations about how Asbestos should be handled at home or anywhere else for that matter. People doing home renovations often don’t abide by those sort of rules – wearing protection, closing the job they’re doing, wetting it down and preventing exposure to the airborne fibres.

Really you shouldn’t be removing Asbestos without observing proper precautions and there’s no great rush to remove Asbestos – it’s often safer being left where it is than it is being disturbed.

How else can we be exposed to Asbestos?

Asbestos is around us all the time and it has been for years as a result of people using it. There’s Asbestos in brake lining, for instance, which may get released into the atmosphere. Motor mechanics and people working on engines where the exhaust had been covered by Asbestos were a significant part of the second wave of people to be diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Between all these sorts of activities, there’s Asbestos being released into the atmosphere in urban environments so we all have a few Asbestos fibres in our lungs. The risk is related to how much there is. This sort of environmental exposure doesn’t have a big impact on the individual’s risk but over the whole of the population, a few people getting mesothelioma mounts up and that’s the effect we’re seeing.

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. If you are concerned about suspect Asbestos materials in your home or building site,  download the Asbestos test kit and make sure you know what you’re dealing with. 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.

Asbestos Found at NSW Hospital Site

Workers’ lives are being put at risk at an active NSW construction site where Asbestos was found, the CFMEU says.

The union says it was notified late on Friday that Asbestos had been identified on the site of the $600 million redevelopment of Sutherland Hospital in southern Sydney suburb of Caringbah. Union organiser Nicholas Rekes said the union officials arrived at the site on Saturday morning to find workers were still operating near an area where Asbestos was visible. Asbestos was also found in the soil near where work was continuing, he said.

Mr Rekes said he asked builder Richard Crookes to at least move workers further away from the possibly contaminated area. “This shows a complete contempt for workers’ safety on a government job that is ironically about delivering better health care services,” Mr Rekes said in a statement. He said NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner needed to step in and stop work at the site until it had been cleared of Asbestos.

A Health Infrastructure spokeswoman said suspected Asbestos material had been returned from the tip on Thursday, but no traces of Asbestos were found in the material when it was tested on Friday. She said although inspections on Saturday afternoon uncovered no Asbestos, a piece of suspected material had been roped off. Testing would be carried out first thing on Monday morning, she said.

Source: Yahoo news

Identification of Asbestos

Regional Enviroscience are the Asbestos testing specialists, identifying Asbestos, Asbestos air monitoring, site remediation and Asbestos management plans. We independently identify, monitor and assist you to manage or remove Asbestos and other hazardous material & substances in commercial, community and residential locations.

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.

Asbestos found in charred remains of beach house.

Asbestos has been found in the charred remains of a beach house, gutted by a ferocious fire overnight in Palm Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Emergency services were called to a house fire on Barrenjoey Road around 9.30pm August 18. The timber holiday house was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

More than 20 crews worked for nearly an hour to control the fire, which threatened nearby power lines and homes. “We saw flames, licking up into the sky, crackling everywhere,” a woman, who was on the balcony of a nearby apartment, told 9NEWS. “I saw flames shooting above the powerlines,” another neighbour said.

No one was home at the time of the fire.

The home was built before world war 2 and is riddled with Asbestos making it too dangerous for investigators to enter the burnt down property. Asbestos is common in homes of this age, surrounding homes are in danger of airborne Asbestos after the fire. Identifying Asbestos is vital to you and your family’s safety, Download Enviroscience’s DIY Asbestos test kit and know if Asbestos is in your home.
Original Story: 9NEWS

How to Identify Asbestos 

The best and most reliable way to identify bonded or non-friable Asbestos is to use an Enviroscience Asbestos testing kit. Simply download the Enviroscience Asbestos test kit which instructs you on the correct and safe way to take a sample of the suspect material then offers a postage testing service that is NATA Approved. Download the Asbestos test kit.

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.

Asbestos fears as WorkSafe proposes a cut in mandatory checks

Buildings constructed in Victoria after 2003 will no longer be forced to undergo mandatory Asbestos checks, under controversial changes being proposed by the workplace regulator despite serious safety concerns. The proposed reform, contained in a draft set of new regulations, comes just weeks after a recent string of health scares on Australian building sites where potentially deadly Asbestos fibres have been discovered in materials imported from China.

WorkSafe’s new proposal means Victorian builders would not need to audit for the presence of Asbestos when refurbishing or demolishing structures built after December 2003 – the year the substance was outlawed from import and use. The push has stirred division among the building industry, and Asbestos support groups have likened it to “industrial manslaughter”, in the wake of the troubling revelations that Asbestos is continuing to slip into the country unintentionally, even with the ban in force.

Yuanda provided Asbestos containing material to Australian companies.

A Perth hospital construction site went into lockdown last month after Asbestos was found in Chinese roof panels. The supplier, Yuanda Australia, a subsidiary of Chinese manufacturing firm Yuanda Holdings, had also provided Asbestos-ridden gaskets to a high-rise construction project in Brisbane. And, in June, an investigation was launched into Adelaide company Australian Portable Camps over imports from China that illegally contained Asbestos, prompting calls from Senator Nick Xenophon for a Senate inquiry.

In the wake of the Asbestos discoveries, the Australian Border Force disclosed that it is only testing a small percentage of shipping containers each year for the deadly substance. Leaked minutes of a recent WorkSafe meeting, obtained by Fairfax Media, reveal the regulator has sidelined warnings about the impact of establishing a cut-off date.

“Asbestos … has been imported unintentionally, which is occurring when some building materials such as tiles are purchased from overseas,” a union occupational safety expert told the meeting. “Currently, if such materials are imported and the duty-holder is unsure it contains Asbestos, they need to assume that Asbestos is present or have the product tested … By introducing a cut-off date, this safeguard is removed.”

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the generic term for a number of fibrous silicate minerals and was commonly mixed with cement to form building products. Until the mid-1980s, Asbestos was widely used in a range of commercial and home building materials.  Asbestos becomes a health risk when fibres are released into the air and breathed in, and is linked to Asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma

Developers in Victoria have been pressing the agency to introduce the December 2003 cut-off date for Asbestos exemptions, saying the existing Asbestos-testing requirements are unnecessary and burdensome. “This is a pragmatic date for the cut-off given that no Asbestos products have been authorised for manufacture/construction since then,” Housing Industry Association regional director Gil King said.

“The focus should be on the higher risk period when Asbestos products were more commonplace particularly in the ’70s and ’80s.”  Under the proposed new regulation, the exemption for newer buildings would not apply in the event that Asbestos has been already identified or is “likely to be present”.

But Asbestos Disease Foundation of Australia president Barry Robson said WorkSafe’s attempt to abolish the blanket requirement for all buildings to be Asbestos-audited would be “bordering on industrial manslaughter”. “Is WorkSafe Victoria going to be a willing participant in the fourth wave of Asbestos deaths here in Australia by removing this regulation?” he said.

Asbestos Identified new buildings not exempted

Building union officials said there was a real risk that workers exposed to cheap, foreign-made building products could be the next large group to suffer Asbestos diseases in Australia, “but the problem is these diseases don’t present themselves for decades”.

Gerry Ayers, the CFMEU’s head of health and safety, said Asbestos fibres cause Asbestosis and the fatal disease mesothelioma. “No one knows how much exposure is required to cause an Asbestos-related disease, but it is a horrific way to die,” Dr Ayers said. “Why would you want to take the risk of exposing someone to this potentially deadly disease? It’s very disappointing that the regulator is willing to take this chance and play the game of probability with someone’s life.”

Last week, in light of the recent Asbestos scandals, federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said Australian builders were forced to “cut corners” and import cheap materials from China that risked containing Asbestos because the CFMEU had been driving up the cost of doing business.

The union’s state secretary, John Setka, accused Mr Dutton of “making excuses” for ineffective border controls. “At the same time as we have WorkSafe making grossly irresponsible recommendations, we have an incompetent Immigration Minister making excuses for Border Force’s inability to halt the importation of Asbestos contaminated products,” he said.

Asbestos testing.

Regional Enviroscience are the Asbestos testing specialists, identifying Asbestos, Asbestos air monitoring, site remediation and Asbestos management plans. We independently identify, monitor and assist you to manage or remove Asbestos and other hazardous material & substances in commercial, community and residential locations.

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.

Read the full Article here: https://au.news.yahoo.com/nsw/a/32125125/Asbestos-still-in-ausgrid-networks-union/#page1

Things to know when buying a property with Asbestos.

Deadly fibres, a small inconvenience or a way to negotiate a cheaper property price? Find out what you need to know if buying a property with Asbestos.

Buying a property with Asbestos isn’t just a bad idea or a complete no-no.

Approximately one third of homes built in Australia contain Asbestos product, and, if the house was built before the mid-1980s it is highly likely that it would have some Asbestos containing materials.

While this doesn’t make it all AOK, it may be surprising to know that Asbestos isn’t as rare as you may have thought. So here are some important things to know when deciding whether to buy a property with Asbestos.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that was commonly used in building materials because of its ability to withstand heat, erosion and decay and it has fire and water resistant properties too. It can be found in a lot of products, including roof sheeting and capping, guttering, gables, eaves, wall sheeting (flat or a weatherboard style), vinyl sheet flooring, carpet and tile underlays, flexible building boards, imitation brick cladding, fencing, carports and sheds, waterproof membrane, telecommunications pits, some window putty, expansion joints, packing under beams and concrete formwork…  a lot of products!

Is Asbestos dangerous?

Most information says that if the building materials containing Asbestos are intact, sealed, and undisturbed and undamaged, then it is safe. However, if there is cracking, damage or anything that could lead to the Asbestos particles being released, then this is when it can become a health risk.

How to find out if a property has Asbestos?

You won’t know if a building contains Asbestos just by looking at it; it needs to be tested. If you do your due diligence and get a building inspection report done on a property you want to buy, it should discover any Asbestos, but it’s worth checking with the property inspector you use to make sure they can specifically test for Asbestos.

Sample testing by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory, such as EnviroScience’s NATA Asbestos Testing Lab is the only way to confirm if Asbestos fibres are present.

What to do if a property has Asbestos?

Before doing anything you need to check the law in your state. It’s also recommended that you don’t try to remove it yourself. DIY Asbestos removal can go horribly wrong and affect the health of you, your family and your neighbours, so the safest way to manage the removal of Asbestos is to hire a licensed Asbestos removal contractor who can also organise for its safe disposal once removed.

Ultimately, how you deal with Asbestos is important but dealing with it is possible. So if you’ve found the house of your dreams Asbestos doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Just make sure you:

  1. Find out if the property has Asbestos, how widespread and in what condition.
  2. If it’s in good condition you mightn’t need to take any action, except painting it occasionally and checking it regularly for signs of wear and tear.
  3. If it’s not intact, you should find out what the cost will be to remove or repair it, and factor that into any offer you make to buy the property.
  4. If you also plan to renovate, you’ll need to find out if your renovations will disturb the Asbestos as this could add greater cost and time to your remodelling.

Already own a property containing Asbestos?

Asbestos is invisible to the naked eye, the only way you can reliably identify Asbestos or Asbestos containing materials in your home is to test for it. EnviroScience offers a NATA approved test in their accredited Asbestos Testing laboratory.  The Enviroscience Asbestos test kit instructs you on the correct and safe way to take a sample of suspect bonded or non-friable material, and is tested at a NATA accredited laboratory. Download the Asbestos test kit.

Original Article:  by

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.

Royal Hobart Hospital revamp behind six months after mould and Asbestos finds

Persistent problems with mould and Asbestos have delayed the completion of the redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) by six months. After repeatedly assuring Tasmanians the hospital would be completed by the end of 2018, Health Minister Michael Ferguson told Parliament that date had been pushed back to mid-2019. Mr Ferguson blamed the need for substantial rectification works needed to address a mould outbreak in a temporary building, designed to house patients while the redevelopment proceeded.

The building was meant to be ready early this year but is now not expected to be completed until the end of October and then fitted out for patients. There have been three Asbestos scares since July, including the relocation of 40 staff after Asbestos fell from the ceiling.

Mould and your health

Mould in a home or workplace can cause discomfort and many illnesses such as respiratory disease, headaches/migranes, cough, sinus problems & rashes and therefore it is important to make sure you or your employees are not suffering from any of these illnesses.

Asbestos and your health

Asbestos is the generic term for a number of fibrous silicate minerals and was commonly mixed with cement to form building products. Until the mid-1980s, Asbestos was widely used in a range of commercial and home building materials.  Asbestos becomes a health risk when fibres are released into the air and breathed in, and is linked to Asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The only way to identify Asbestos is by a Lab test, Enviroscience offer a downloadable Asbestos test kit for bonded and non-friable Asbestos samples.

More Asbestos found: Minister

The Minister also said more Asbestos has been found in the areas of the hospital being refurbished, adding to the delays. He told Parliament the Government contract with the managing contractor John Holland Fairbrother provided incentives for them to minimise delays.

Under the contract, each day the project is late will cost the managing contractor $17,000. “60 days after the date for practical completion, managing contractor delay damages of $35,000.00 per day apply,” Mr Ferguson said. “Viable options to mitigate delays will be assessed by the managing contractor and the RHH Redevelopment, but will be undertaken only if it delivers a facility that is safe and fit for purpose. “He said further speculation on the issue could compromise the Government’s legal rights under the contract

Asbestos testing and mould clearance.

Don’t take risks on your or your staff’s health and safety. If you find your organisation in a situation, contact us now to find out how we can help you manage and resolve your mould and fungi or Asbestos situation.

Regional Enviroscience are the Asbestos and mould testing specialists, identifying Asbestos, Asbestos air monitoring, site remediation and Asbestos management plans. We independently identify, monitor and assist you to manage or remove Asbestos and other hazardous material & substances in commercial, community and residential locations.

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.

Read the full Article here

Asbestos risk: residents warned not to undertake home renovations

FOUR  Blacktown suburbs are among the top 20 in the state most at risk from Asbestos but many residents are unaware of the danger. Seven Hills, Lalor Park, Blacktown and Doonside make the list, a report compiled by the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union says. The suburbs form part of what is known as the “Asbestos belt” of Sydney and are home to hundreds of post-war houses built using cement Asbestos fibro.

Asbestos a Massive Risk to Home Renovators.

Asbestos Disease Foundation of Australia president Barry Robson, who lives in Blackett, said many people in the community were unaware of the risk. “A lot of people don’t realise that they are living in an Asbestos cement fibro home, commonly known as a fibro home,” he said. “There’s a lot of people moving in to the area. They’re first-home buyers and they don’t realise the dangers of these homes and they’re starting to renovate. “People do a renovation, they drill, break and even use high-pressure machines to clean the walls. “The water breaks down the binding, thus releasing the deadly fibres into the atmosphere. That’s how it becomes airborne and dangerous, not only for themselves but their families and their neighbours. “The problem is you can’t smell it, you can’t see it, you can’t taste it. You don’t know you’ve got a disease until it presents in your body. “It could take 10, 20, 40 years even for the disease to present itself. It’s one of the biggest health issues in the city of Blacktown.”

Asbestos cannot be identified by a visual inspection.  All suspect Asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) must be tested in a NATA Asbestos laboratory to confirm the material contains Asbestos.  Enviroscience offers an Asbestos testing service for commercial clients and a downloadable DIY Asbestos test kit which is also an Asbestos home test kit for bonded or non-friable materials.

‘Any fibro house built before 1987 would have Asbestos, not only on the outside walls but in the eaves, laundry, kitchen and bathroom areas’, Mr Robson said. His advice to home renovators living in Asbestos fibro houses was unequivocal: “Don’t drill, don’t sand, don’t break and don’t use high-pressure machines.”

Jamie Eyles, who runs an Asbestos removal business in Seven Hills, said he carried out up to 20 jobs in the Blacktown area a month. “I do a lot of jobs in the area but there’s still a lot of people – homeowners – who are doing renovations,” he said. “I wouldn’t advise it because, potentially, if it’s not done correctly, even if it’s a one-off exposure, it can contaminate your home and endanger your neighbours.” He has seen a flood of Asbestos removal contractors entering the market over the 16 years he’s been in the business.

He said while increased awareness had tightened up industry regulations, there were still some “dodgy” contractors. “As far as people doing the wrong thing (illegally dumping Asbestos), I don’t know anyone personally but there’s still a lot going on,’’ Mr Eyles said.

Greenway federal Labor MP Michelle Rowland said Asbestos was a huge issue in her electorate, which took in the “Asbestos belt”. “It has particularly become an issue as home renovations and knock-down-rebuild has become popular,” she said. “People don’t realise you only need a very small amount of fibre for you to be potentially affected by a fatal set of diseases. I’ve met with many families and community members who have lost loved ones because of Asbestos-related diseases.”

Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali said illegally dumped Asbestos was a costly issue for the council. “It costs council a lot of money because we have to remove it,” he said. “We’ve put up cameras in bushland that have identified Asbestos dumpers, so we have been proactive in clamping down on it.”

Asbestos Identification and Testing.

Don’t take risks on your or your staff’s health and safety. Contact us now to find out how we can help you manage and resolve your Asbestos situation.

Regional Enviroscience are the Asbestos testing specialists, identifying Asbestos, Asbestos air monitoring, site remediation and Asbestos management plans. We independently identify, monitor and assist you to manage or remove Asbestos and other hazardous material & substances in commercial, community and residential locations.

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.

Asbestos importation: push for Senate inquiry wins cross-party support

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has pushed for a Senate inquiry into asbestos importation which will likely succeed after winning broad cross-party support.

Labor, the Nick Xenophon Team, the Greens and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation all support a crackdown on imported asbestos after several high-profile discoveries of the hazardous material on Australian building sites.

The inquiry push will be pursued through a Senate motion on 10 October to re-establish an inquiry into non-conforming building products with a specific focus on asbestos importation. Asbestos has been discovered on a number of large building projects this year including in roof panels at the $1.2bn Perth children’s hospital project and at Multiplex’s 1 William Street site in Brisbane.

In a letter to senators calling for an inquiry the ACTU warned that the company supplying materials to those projects, Yuanda Australia, has also supplied more than 50 building sites around the country.

Importation of asbestos has been banned since 2003, but the ACTU warned Border Force lacks the resources to crack down on it, inspecting fewer than 5% of imports. ACTU assistant secretary, Michael Borowick, told Guardian Australia “you can import asbestos with impunity – that’s why it’s turning up”. He cited the fact only three entities had been prosecuted for importing asbestos since 2003 and fined the “pitiful” amount of $300,000 in total. “That would do little to deter a company like Yuanda that had revenue of $217m last financial year,” the peak body said in its letter.

“We want an investigation into why the current regime is failing so badly,” Borowick said.

Immigration minister, Peter Dutton, has previously blamed the problem on the logistical impossibility of checking every container that enters Australia. A spokeswoman for the immigration department confirmed there had been three successful prosecutions “in recent years”. She said an increased focus on asbestos by the Australian Border Force had resulted in 13 discoveries of asbestos-contaminated goods in the last year. “Border Force does not rely on prosecutions alone to ensure better compliance outcomes,” she said.

Other enforcement problems identified by the ACTU include that building materials come from countries with “unreliable or flawed standards” including that some foreign regulators allow low levels of asbestos in their products. The union body claims Chinese products can be labelled “asbestos-free” while still containing as much as 5% asbestos.

The ACTU said government reviews of the problem including the March 2016 asbestos importation review were inadequate. That report found “the asbestos border control is effective” but recommended the government should “maximise targeting of high-risk goods” and “further prioritise investigation to improve prosecution of offences related to asbestos importation”. Borowick said unions and asbestos groups were not consulted and the report did not consider changes to the Customs Act.

Labor promised an asbestos importation Senate inquiry before the election, and the Senate will consider establishing it as part of the building products inquiry at its next sitting on 10 October. Labor’s employment spokesman, Brendan O’Connor, said an inquiry was needed “to ensure a proper total ban on asbestos is enforced”.

After the discovery of asbestos in equipment used in the Port Pirie smelter redevelopment in August Nick Xenophon said: “There is absolutely no excuse for deadly asbestos to be coming into this country. “Clearly the current system of border protection, enforcement, and compliance has not worked.”

Xenophon helped establish the non-conforming building products inquiry and supports a separate inquiry or term of reference to consider asbestos importation under the current one. He said it should consider requiring all new building products coming into the country that have the potential to contain asbestos to be independently checked and certified.

Borowick said defences to asbestos importation offences needed to be considered, because companies importing the material were allowed to take assurances products did not contain asbestos at face value and escape prosecution. He also suggested liability for the head contractor on building projects should be considered when companies they engage imported asbestos.

Greens immigration spokesman, Nick McKim, told Guardian Australia: “Stopping the importation of illegal, asbestos-ridden materials requires a concerted effort, and a Senate inquiry could be a useful way to reveal the scale of the problem and propose solutions.”

Hanson said: “If the government don’t do a total ban [of asbestos building products] they’re failing their duty of care. They’re contaminated.” Hanson called for a wider ban on foreign building products, saying use of Australian products would create jobs and ensure they were asbestos-free. Despite calling an inquiry a “waste of time”, Hanson said “of course I will [support it] if they won’t do what I’m calling for”.

Source: The guardian.com

Regional Enviroscience – the Asbestos specialists – Occupational Health Consultancy with inhouse NATA Accredited Asbestos testing laboratory in regional NSW – North Western NSW, Hunter Valley, Central NSW and the Riverina. Offices in Dubbo, Wagga, Orange, Tamworth and Maitland.