How Can I Tell If I Have Asbestos?

Close up of asbestos chrysotile fibres

Many people undergoing renovations to their property are likely to come across asbestos. Australia had one of the world’s highest per capita usage rates of asbestos up until the mid-1980s.

It is estimated that one in three Australian houses contain some form of asbestos. Unfortunately, asbestos is a deadly toxin that cannot be swept under the rug or disposed of in a regular skip. There are extensive and detailed regulations concerning its safe removal and destruction.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring silicate minerals that form thin, durable fibres. It was once seen as a miracle material because it is resistant to heat, doesn’t burn, is inert to most chemical reactions and does not conduct electricity. Due to these properties, asbestos was a popular material in many applications, including housing insulation, fibrous cement, plaster, acoustic ceilings, brake pads, fire blankets, thermal pipe insulation and caulk.

What Are the Risks of Asbestos?

Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres in the air can lead to serious health complications and death. The fibres can lodge in the lungs leading to fibrosis and mesothelioma. The risks associated with asbestos are largely tied to the weathering of asbestos containing materials and building, maintenance, demolition or removal involving these materials.

Any interaction that may cause the fibres to become airborne is a risk. Where asbestos is solidly embedded in an object that is in good condition and not subject to these stresses, it is considered to be inert.

How Can I Identify Asbestos?

If your house or property was built or renovated before 1990, there is a reasonable chance it contains at least one asbestos-based material. If you are unsure if your property contains asbestos, it is best to employ an expert to conduct a survey. They can make a thorough inspection and advise you on management and disposal strategies.

The presence of asbestos can only be confirmed in the laboratory. Therefore, it is common for contractors and surveyors to take samples of building materials and soil to send to the lab for identification.

What If I Find Asbestos on My Property?

Because of the toxicity of asbestos containing materials, there are special guidelines relating to its removal and disposal.

How to Dispose of Asbestos Correctly

Treatment of asbestos containing materials and sites is a major health hazard. Across Australia, there are licensed asbestos removalists that are trained in the safe and efficient removal of asbestos materials.

Asbestos cannot be thrown in any regular skip or bin. Improper treatment or disposal of asbestos containing materials poses a risk to the environment and the community, and can result in harsh penalties.

For Non-Toxic Waste Disposal, Call Smart Skip to Hire a Skip

For everything else you’re removing from your property during a renovation or construction process, order a skip. Smart Skip has the entire greater Brisbane area covered. We can also point you towards your local asbestos removalist experts; give us a call on 13 75 47 to find out more. You can arrange for us to call you back at a time of your choosing.