Asbestos or Not?
What is Asbestos
The various forms of asbestos are naturally occurring silicate materials which form long fibrous crystals.
Each visible fiber has of millions of microscopic fibres that can be released by cutting, drilling, breaking, or as it wears
Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause fatal illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestos.
Uses of Asbestos
Asbestos has commonly been used for since the late 1800s for fireproofing, soundproofing and insulation.
Starting in the 1920s Australian companies started to make asbestos cement building materials, which continued until the late1980s.
When Asbestos Use Stopped
Asbestos cement product manufacturing in Australiaa started to be phased out in the 1980s in favour of asbestos-free products such as Fibre Reinforced Cement* (FRC) although some asbestos containing materials may have been imported from other countries.
- FRC replaces asbestos with cellulose fibres
On 31 December 2003 the use or sale of asbestos was banned in Australia.
Will Your House Contain Asbestos?
Many houses built before 1990 therefore contain asbestos cement materials, especially in the eaves, internal and external wall cladding, ceilings (particularly in wet areas such as bathrooms and laundries) and fences.
Generally if your house, or garage/shed was built
- Prior to the mid-1980s it is almost certain to have used products that contain asbestos.
- From the mid-1980s to 1990 it is likely to have used products that contain asbestos.
- Later than 1990 it is unlikely that it has asbestos-containing products
- From January 2004 the total ban on any activity involving asbestos products should mean there is no asbestos.
Is the asbestos a Health Risk
Loose asbestos is always a health risk
Asbestos cement is only a risk if you are able to breath in the fibres.
As long as the asbestos cement is in place, undamaged, and preferably painted you should be safe.
If the sheets are cracked, drilled, cut, or abraded there is a risk of fibres being released and getting in your lungs. . . . so don’t start DIY…. get someone in to remove the asbestos (but it won’t be cheap)