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Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) can be categorised as friable and non-friable. Non-friable asbestos (bonded asbestos), is where it is mixed with other materials like cement, is the type most commonly found in our built environment. Friable asbestos is more likely to become airborne.

Both friable and non-friable asbestos pose a significant health risk to all workers and others if the materials are not properly maintained or removed carefully.

Asbestos, predominantly chrysotile and crocidolite, was mined in Australia until late 1984. Records also show that between 1930 and 1983, approximately 1.5 million tonnes of all forms of asbestos was imported into Australia

Approximately one third of all homes built in Australia contain asbestos products. As a general rule, if your house was built before the mid-1980s, it is highly likely that it would have some asbestos containing materials. If your house was built between the mid-1980s and 1990, it is likely that it would have asbestos containing materials. If the house was built between 1990-2004 is it unlikely but not unheard of to contain asbestos, if its post 2004 then it is very unlikely to contain asbestos due to legislation within Australia.

Health effects of asbestos

Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and the inhalation of asbestos fibres is associated with increased incidences of a number of diseases including pleural disease, asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Even limited or short-term exposure to asbestos fibres can be dangerous but exposure does not make development of an asbestos related disease (ARD) inevitable. Due to these health risks, it is always important to have professionals assess the situation before you proceed with any work to do with asbestos or even suspected asbestos. When dealing with asbestos, you can never be too careful.

The use of asbestos in the home has been extensive throughout the past and there are many areas in the home where ACMs can be found including (but not limited to):

  • roof sheeting and capping
  • guttering
  • gables, eaves/soffitswater pipes and flues
  • wall & ceiling sheeting (flat or a weatherboard style)
  • vinyl floor coverings and vinyl tiles
  • carpet and tile underlays
  • zelemite backing boards to the switchboards
  • flexible building boards
  • imitation brick cladding
  • fencing
  • carports and sheds
  • waterproof membrane
  • telecommunications pits
  • window mastic
  • expansion joints
  • packing under beams
  • concrete formwork

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