Author: Claire Bell
During much of the 20th century, asbestos was considered a wonder-product. It helped improve the performance of many building materials. However, these benefits mean that it can be found in many Australian homes where it poses a silent and potentially deadly risk - especially to the handy do-it-yourselfer.
Would you know how to identify it? And would you know what to do if you found it in your house?
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a silicate mineral that occurs naturally in the environment. It appears as tiny fibres that, on its own and is not visible to the naked eye. It is these tiny fibres that can cause sickness when inhaled.
Before the mid-80s, asbestos fibres were added to many building materials because it helped strengthen and improve insulation and heat-resistant properties.
There are two types of asbestos. The first is non-friable, which refers to products that are made up of asbestos fibres bonded with cement, vinyl, resin or other similar material. Non-friable products account for 97% of asbestos products, and as such are the products you will most likely encounter during home maintenance and renovation projects. These products are also known under names such as fibro, super six, bonded asbestos, asbestos cement sheets or AC sheeting and can be found in wall cladding (interior and exterior), roofing, eaves, fences, vinyl floor tiles, carpet underlay, kitchen splashback, thermal boards around fireplaces, backing of electrical boards and water or flue pipes.
The second type is friable asbestos. Friable is less common, but more hazardous as the fibres are not encased in a bonded form. This means the dangerous fibres are easily released into the air and inhaled. Examples of friable asbestos include spray-on insulation or soundproofing, asbestos-rope door gaskets in wood stoves, insulation on hot water pipes, domestic heaters and stoves (lagging), backing material on floor tiles and vinyl flooring, heat-resistant fabrics, badly damaged or weathered non-friable asbestos cement products and textured or decorative paints and ceiling coatings.
Is It In Your Home?
There are some standard guidelines that can help you determine whether your house would contain some building products that have asbestos fibres in them. These guidelines are based on the years asbestos products were manufactured and the age of your home. As a general rule, if your house was built:
- Before the mid-1980s - it's highly likely that it has asbestos-containing products
- Between the mid-1980s and 1990 - it is likely that it has asbestos-containing products
- After 1990 - it is unlikely that it has any asbestos-containing products.
The Asbestos Awareness website has a gallery of images to help you identify where asbestos may be lurking around the house.
Before You Renovate
It's important that the handy person around your home is aware of the risks posed by asbestos and takes suitable caution before knocking down walls or removing insulation.
You can also play the Bestville game that helps provide quick and simple answers to your asbestos questions. How many points can you score?
This article does not constitute legal or professional advise. We strongly advise contacting a licenses building professional before handling materials that could contain asbestos. Information for this article was taken from the Asbestos Awareness and Asbestos Answers websites.
Author: Claire BellClaire has been working at Planet Ark since 2011, after working in the communications industry and raising a young family. She is passionate about her children and helping the environment. Claire is super-organised and excellent multitasker, which helps in her joint roles as Office Manager and Campaign Coordinator.
- Get Crafty this Christmas »
- How to Reduce Spending and Your Eco-Footprint This Christmas »
- Keeping Plastic Bags Out of Kerbside: Scrunch and Recycle »
- Cleaning Up Confusion for National Recycling Week »
- Planet Ark Launches 100% Recycled Office Paper »
- Planet Ark Launches 100% Recycled Office Paper »
- Win a YEAR'S SUPPLY of Naturale Toilet Tissue »
- Giving Coffee Pods Another Life »
- It's Time For Another Fling »
- Post Back Your Post Packs »
- There's a Machine for That! »
- Donating Your Old Smartphone Could Change Someone's Life »
- Provide Feedback and Win One of Five Battery Chargers »
- The Rise of the Coffee Pod Machine »
- Help a Deafblind Person With Your Unwanted Smartphone »
- Grow a Green Thumb »
- How to Recycle Whitegoods »
- Recycle Right and Have a Cuppa »
- Community Garden Competition »
- Toowoomba is Buzzing About Free Rechargeable Battery Recycling »
- Waste and Resource Recovery Facilities Workshops »
- Adding Trees - A Prescription for Health, Happiness and Fulfilment »
- A Quick Recycling Guide To 3 Tricky Items »
- Working It Out At Officeworks »
- Battery Stewardship Solutions for Australia »
- Don't Miss Out On Funding Grants »
- The Importance of Green Public Spaces »
- Learn From The New Wave In Innovation »
- Who Made the Top Ten Cartridge Recyclers »
- Cash For Containers In NSW - It Pays To Recycle »
- Mother's Day green gift ideas »
- Going Bananas About Waste »
- Reimagining Rubbish as a Resource »
- Coffee Go-Ground »
- Working Together To Reduce Food Waste »
- Fashionable Questions - Who Made Your Clothes and Where Do They End Up? »
- Reducing Waste and Costs for Business Happiness »
- Compacting Waste Costs By 50% »
- What's the Deal With Business Waste? »
- Four Eyes For Recycling »
- Give Dumpers A Lesson »
- A Tablet for Your Thoughts »
- Have A Light Bulb Moment With Broken Bulbs »
- Power Tool Battery recycling creates buzz in Brisbane »
- Change Accelerates 'Wood First' Policies »
- Get Your 2016 Environment Action Planner »
- How To Save On Waste Costs »
- Back at work? keep that vacation feeling with some 'Green' time... »
- 'Tis the Season to De-Clutter »
- Give someone a (indoor) tree this Christmas! »
- Drink Coffee? Take our Coffee Recycling Survey »
- Best Fling Ever »
- Recycle Right »
- Full Tummy Empty Bins »
- Recycle your old mobiles & help the Salvos »
- Trim Your Waste »
- Have an Appy Christmas »
- Re-Wrap It Up »
- Celebrate Recycling at Work »
- 'Appy' Christmas gift from Planet Ark »
- Save the date! 'Waste Not, Want Not' Day is coming »
- $50,000 Rebate Open for NSW Businesses to Increase Recycling »
- What's In a Label? »
- Is it Gold For Australia? »
- Make Recycling at Work, Work »
- Let the Flings Begin »
- Recycling Role Models »
- Are You Making the No 1 Mistake? »
- Inspiring Performers »
- Answers to the Big Recycling Questions »
- Test Your Recycling Knowledge! »
- Getting Your Recycling Sorted »
- Advanced Waste and Resource Recovery Facilities Training Workshop »
- Help Save Safe Toilet Paper! »
- Planet Ark's new packaging tool a finalist in Banksia Sustainability Awards »
- New Label Makes Recycling Easy »
- Garage Sale Trailing Right Around Australia »
- An Office Fling Is Good For Circulation »
- Awake to the Fun of Recycling »
- Planet Ark Project - Answering Kid's Questions »
- Declutter Your Office E-waste for FREE »
- Power Tool Battery Recycling Pilot Launches in Brisbane »
- Reduce Your Pet's Paw Print »
- Bagging Waste »
- Tree Cheers For Australia! »
- Wise Words From An Eleven-Year-Old »
- E-Waste Busters »
- One House, Four Hours, Four Tonnes of Recycling »
- The art of upcycling »
- Happy Eco-Easter! »
- Creative Composting »
- Clean Clothes for Sensitive Souls »
- PREP For Better Recycling »
- Turning Trash Into Treasure »