Asbestos information from various sites worldwide for your reference
- Asbestos Products
- DIY Renovator at risk
- Asbestos Safety - Aust Government
- Work Safe Aust - Links
Asbestos became a central part of commercial product manufacturing in America in the early 1800s. Its first popular use was the lining in steam engines in 1828.
Why asbestos? Simple: It was cheap, durable, flexible and naturally acted as an insulating and fireproofing agent. The construction and manufacturing industries fell in love with its potential and used asbestos-containing products whenever possible.
During World War II, use of these products peaked, and the shipbuilding industry utilised the mineral extensively. From the early 1900s to the 1970s, asbestos was the ideal material to use.
Asbestos Products Index
- Asbestos Gaskets
- Asbestos Sheets
- Cigarette Filters
- Electrical Cloth & Electrical Panel Partition
- Fire Proofing & Prevention Materials
- Fume Hoods & Laboratory Hoods
- Vinyl Products
- Textile Cloths & Textile Garments
- Adhesives and Gold Bond Adhesives
- Construction Mastics & Gunning Mix
- Ductwork Connectors & Flexible Duct Connectors
- Floor Backing & Drywall Taping Compounds
- Zonolite Insulation
For more information on the above products go to: www.asbestos.com/products/
Although people have found a wide variety of uses for asbestos since antiquity, the material’s extensive use as an ingredient in construction materials started during the industrial revolution. By the late 19th century, nations around the world were operating massive mines to meet a burgeoning demand for the mineral. Manufacturers used the majority of the output from these mines to produce construction materials, including asbestos cement and insulation for buildings and machinery.
Just before the Civil War, the first patent for roofing shingles was awarded to Henry Ward Johns, who founded the New York-based H.W. Johns Manufacturing Company. For the next 40 years, Johns Company manufactured an assortment of asbestos products, including textiles and insulation, in addition to the highly profitable asbestos roofing products that framed Henry Ward Johns’ success and initially funded his business.
By this time, however, Johns Manufacturing was not the only company producing these materials. In fact, discovery of naturally occurring deposits in the U.S. in the 1880s prompted mining of the mineral for commercial uses. To remain competitive, Johns Manufacturing made a strategic business decision in 1886, aligning itself with Manville Covering, a company that operated an asbestos mine and specialised in insulation and pipe covering. The merger established the Johns-Manville Corporation, the largest manufacturer of asbestos products in the U.S.
With Johns-Manville at the forefront of the boom, the asbestos industry grew rapidly by the early 1900s, and by 1905 the United States’ many asbestos manufacturers produced 2,820 tons of the mineral – all for domestic use.
Most Popular Products
The use of asbestos-containing products stretched across a number of industries. Although most of the products could be categorised as either construction or automotive materials, some were general. The following list includes some of the most popular products:
Most Popular Asbestos Product Uses:
What Happened to These Products?
Although these products met the demands of the construction, automotive and manufacturing industries, the medical community did not approve of asbestos use. Respiratory conditions stemming from working around the mineral were acknowledged by doctors in the late 1800s. By 1907, the first case of asbestosis was reported. In addition to this pulmonary disease, mesothelioma and lung cancer became associated with exposure in later years. The first documented case of mesothelioma linked to exposure was in 1964. While concerns for related disease grew during the 1900s, the use of asbestos in products grew even faster.
Finally in the 1970s, the scientific evidence surrounding the dangers of the mineral became publicly accepted. In December 1977, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of asbestos-containing patching compounds and artificial fireplace ash products. More than a decade later, on July 12, 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a ban on most contaminated products, but this ruling was overturned two years later by a New Orleans court. Currently, the EPA ban affects only flooring felt, rollboard and certain types of papers.
Products today can be made with asbestos as long as it accounts for less than 1 percent of the product. Current products include brake pads, automobile clutches, roofing materials, vinyl tile, cement piping, corrugated sheeting, home insulation and some potting soils. Although products can still be made with small amounts of asbestos, the regulations that control its use and manage its removal from older buildings are very strict.
- Bowker, M. (2003). Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
- Cavette, C. (1994). Asbestos. How Products are Made, Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_gx5205/is_1996/ai_n19124706/
- Dodson, R. and Hammar, S. (2011). Asbestos: Risk Assessment, Epidemiology, and Health Effects. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis.
- Environmental Protection Agency. (2011, August 22). Asbestos: Basic Information. Retrieved fromhttp://www2.epa.gov/asbestos
- Environmental Working Group. (2009). The Failed EPA Asbestos Ban: Asbestos manufacturing and sale of asbestos-containing goods in still legal in the U.S. Retrieved from http://www.ewg.org/
- Johns Manville. (2008). Building on Tradition [PDF document]. Retrieved from http://www.jm.com/
- Kalanik, L., McNulty, M., Stansell, C. (2005, January 1). Johns Manville Corporation. [Abstract]. International Directory of Company Histories. Retrieved from highbeam.com/doc/1G2-3429100062.html
- U.S. Geological Survey. (2005). [Asbestos] statistics, in Kelly, T.D., and Matos, G.R.,comps. Historical statistics for mineral and material commodities in the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 140 [Data file]. Retrieved from http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/2005/140/
Information gathered from: www.asbestos.com
DIY renovators now most at risk of asbestos cancers
A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia todays 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.
Clinical Professor of Respiratory Medicine and senior author of the paper, Bill Musk, discusses the risks to human health posed by asbestos.
When did we first find out about the harmful effect asbestos has on health?
We’ve known about it all for quite a while but it took a painfully long time for action to be taken. Asbestos was finally banned in Australia in 2003. The problem is the stuff that’s still out there.
Tell me about the study you’ve published today.
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.
But it’s very important to remember there’s no level of exposure at which there’s no risk.
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.
The study reports that the proportion of women developing mesothelioma is much higher than men – a rise from 5% of all cases in the 1990s to 35% for the period 2005 to 2008. Why is this?
Mesothelioma is very uncommon in women because their exposure to asbestos in occupational settings is so much less than men. So, as a proportion of all new cases, the percentage of women getting mesothelioma is higher but the number of cases overall is smaller.
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 recognized. 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 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.
There’s a degree of ignorance in the general community about the risk and the fact that asbestos might be present in various places and we’re hoping this study will increase people’s awareness of the risk and their care in handling it.
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.
What exactly is meosthelioma?
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer arising in the tissue that covers the surface of the lung and lines the inside of the chest wall. It also covers the surface of the bowel and lines the abdominal cavity. The same sort of the tissue covers the heart and lines the pericardial cavity.
It’s a cancer of those cells and the main problem that it gives people initially is where it arose, either around the lung or around the bowel.
What are the treatment options for people who develop this illness?
That’s the problem with mesothelioma – we don’t have a treatment for it. Because it’s a surface cancer, it already involves all the tissues around the lung, including the lung surface itself. So it’s not really feasible to surgically remove it. It’s been tried but it doesn’t appear, at least at this stage, to have any useful effect.
And again because it’s distributed over the whole surface, it makes it impossible to give adequate amount of radiotherapy to the cancer. It’s also very resistant to chemotherapy, which is the other form of treatment for cancer. There’s one regime of chemotherapy that shrinks the tumour and may keep people alive for a little longer but this cancer is 100% fatal.
What is its progression?
Mesothelioma doesn’t occur within ten years of first exposure to asbestos, it’s very uncommon within the first 15 years but after that period the rate rises exponentially. Half of the people die within nine and 12 months
There’s no level of exposure below which there’s no risk but the risk is also related to what sort of asbestos the exposure was to. But the more exposure a person has, the greater the risk of getting mesothelioma.
Blue asbestos is the worst while white asbestos is the least potent – we don’t know if pure white asbestos exposure has ever actually caused mesothelioma.
So some asbestos is worse than others – could you elaborate?
The most commonly used asbestos around the world has been white asbestos and that’s relatively innocuous in causing mesothelioma – it can cause chrysotile cancer and asbestosis but it’s a much less potent cause of mesothelioma.
But amosite or brown asbestos, which is what we got from South Africa, is a different variety of asbestos and it’s much more likely to cause mesothelioma.
Blue asbestos, or crocidolite, is the most potent cause of mesothelioma. And that’s why we believe Western Australia has more mesothelioma per head of population than pretty much elsewhere in the world.
We’ve been taking mainly about malignant mesothelioma but asbestos causes a number of other illnesses. What other diseases result from asbestos exposure?
Asbestos can cause a number of diseases but one doesn’t cause another – they’re all pretty much independent effects of asbestos. If you’ve been exposed to it, you can get plural plaques and mesothelioma, or plural plaques and lung cancer or plural plaques and asbestosis. Plural plaques are benign so they tend to be around for a long time.
Asbestosis is an inflammation of the lung tissues that causes fibrosis in the walls and the air spaces of the lungs. It impairs their function but its not cancer while mesothelioma and lung cancer are forms of cancer.
Asbestosis was the first asbestos-related disease to be described and that was early last century. Lung cancer was described as an effect of asbestos exposure in the 1950s and mesothelioma as described as a result of blue asbestos exposure in South Africa in 1960.
Mesothelioma in Australia
Australia has the second-highest rate of mesothelioma deaths in the world, trailing only that of the United Kingdom. Mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure, is leaving its mark on the nation with more than 10,000 people succumbing to the disease since the early 1980s. According to cancer experts, an additional 25,000 people are expected to die from it over the next four decades.
The Australian Mesothelioma Registry concludes that 551 Australians died from mesothelioma in 2007, the most recent public accounting of the disease. Those figures also indicated that the disease toll was increasing over time, and different medical models point to a peak in deaths from mesothelioma coming somewhere between 2014 and 2021. The number of mesothelioma cases in the country is expected to reach 18,000, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The makeup of mesothelioma patients is consistent with the makeup of them across the world. Of those who died from mesothelioma in 2007, 84 percent were men, and the age range of those affected was 75 to 79. More than 70 percent of the mesothelioma deaths were among men and women over the age of 65.
The Australian Mesothelioma Registry, managed by the Cancer Institute of New South Wales, keeps a register of mesothelioma patients, collects pertinent exposure information and distributes annual reports about its findings.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Australia’s high incidence of mesothelioma corresponds with the country’s extensive history of asbestos use. Experts report that from the 1950s to the 1970s, the country had the highest per capita rate of asbestos use in the world.
Construction companies, textile mills and many other production and repair facilities used asbestos in one way or another, and the mineral in some cases was used long after it had already been banned in other countries. For example, amosite (brown) asbestos use continued well into the 1980s and was found in products such as cement board. In fact, asbestos was still used in friction materials and gasket products in the nation as recently as December 2003.
In addition, parts of Australia were asbestos mining hubs. Crocidolite (blue) asbestos, one of the most toxic types of asbestos, was mined in the Western Australia town of Wittenoom from the 1930s until 1966 when the Wittenoom mine was shut down. Australia finally started regulating asbestos products in the late 1970s. The use of crocidolite (blue) asbestos was banned in 1967, while the use of amosite (brown) asbestos continued until the mid-1980s. The ban on chrysotile (white) asbestos finally came about 20 years later, at the end of 2003.
Asbestos was also mined from the Woodsreef mine, located near the township of Barraba in New South Wales. Woodsreef produced white chrysotile asbestos until the mine was abandoned by its operators in the 1980s, but approximately 25 million tons of asbestos waste remained at the mining site, with asbestos fibers visible. More than 25 years after mining operations ceased, the Woodsreef mine continues to leave a legacy of asbestos exposure.
During the 20th century, the Australian asbestos market was largely led by James Hardie Industries, a company that manufactured a wide range of building and insulation products and was involved with the mining, distribution and manufacture of asbestos and related products. James Hardie Industries owned asbestos mines not only in Australia, but also in Canada and Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately, Hardie executives knew of the risks associated with asbestos mines and exposure to the airborne fibers, but the company never warned asbestos miners or plant workers of the risks. Wastes from the Hardie plants were distributed throughout the community for use in playgrounds, driveways and park paths, and the asbestos-contaminated waste was even used to make “Hessian” bags that carried fruit and vegetables. The injury resulting from exposure to asbestos in James Hardie plants and mines is almost immeasurable.
Despite the bans, residents remain at risk for mesothelioma because of older construction, residential and commercial. Older structures contain asbestos cement and other asbestos products. Demolition of any structures built prior to the asbestos bans is particularly dangerous, as is any renovation or remodeling project that puts individuals in contact with these locations or products.
Studies show that Australians most at risk for developing mesothelioma include those individuals who were involved in the following trades:
- Electrical engineering
- Insulation workers
Construction workers and carpenters may be at a particularly high risk of asbestos exposure. A study of 600 mesothelioma patients in the UK and Australia revealed that 1 in 10 retired carpenters born prior to 1950 would die of asbestos-related cancer.
Mesothelioma Diagnoses by Location
The largest number of Australians who died of mesothelioma lived in New South Wales. That was the first state in the country to mine asbestos, and it produced the largest amount of chrysotile and amphibole asbestos. Incidence of the disease in this state nearly doubled in the 20 years between 1987 and 2006. Interestingly, the rate among females in New South Wales tripled during that time as well, with many cases attributed to secondhand asbestos exposure.
Many of the miners and residents of Wittenoom suffered severe lung problems, including mesothelioma and asbestosis. Of the 7,000 individuals who worked at the Wittenoom mine from the 1930s until 1966, an estimated 10 percent have died or will die of mesothelioma. Today the town is all but wiped off the map: only a handful of residents remain.
Other Australians at risk for developing mesothelioma are those who were employed by asbestos product manufacturer James Hardie Industries, which built plants in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. An estimated 50 percent of the asbestos claims filed in any given year are against James Hardie, according to statements made by the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Other states with high rates of mesothelioma deaths include Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. The rankings tend to reflect the size and population of the states as well as the presence of natural asbestos or asbestos mines.
Treatment Centers for Mesothelioma
Because of the growing number of mesothelioma diagnoses, the country placed more emphasis on offering quality treatment. New research facilities like the Bernie Banton Centre at Concord Hospital in Sydney are solely dedicated to mesothelioma research. Other new clinical programs are being developed regularly.
Australian hospitals offering treatment for mesothelioma cancer include:
- Bernie Banton Centre at Concord Hospital (Sydney, New South Wales): The world’s first stand-alone research facility dedicated to the treatment and prevention of asbestos-related diseases. The facility houses the Asbestos Disease Research Institute.
- Austin Health Centre (Melbourne, Victoria): Home to radiation oncologist Dr. Malcolm Feigen, a leader in his field for new radiotherapy techniques that have been proven to lengthen the life expectancy of mesothelioma sufferers. Feigen’s high-dose radiation procedure has been shown to add an average of two years to the survival rate of patients involved in the program.
- Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (Perth, Western Australia): Large teaching hospital offering new, experimental immunotherapy treatments for mesothelioma. Sir Charles Gairdner has the only designated comprehensive cancer treatment center in Western Australia, with an impressive staff of oncologists and thoracic surgeons.
- Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Melbourne, Victoria): The only public hospital solely dedicated to cancer treatment, research and education. Peter MacCallum, also known as Peter Mac, boasts the largest cancer research group in the country.
A number of research organizations and facilities offer participation in clinical trials related to the search for better treatments and new drugs in the fight against mesothelioma.
Research organizations in the country include:
- National Center for Asbestos Related Disease (NCARD)
- Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group
- NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre
- Perth Mesothelioma Centre
Pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies are typically the sponsors for these clinical trials. A list of open trials can be found online through these organizations.
Compensation Related to Mesothelioma
For families of individuals who have died from mesothelioma, the Fatal Accidents Amendment Act of 2008 grants compensation to both victims and their surviving family members. Damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
The 2008 Bernie Banton Law – named for a deceased mesothelioma sufferer who tirelessly campaigned for new legislation – allows citizens of Victoria to seek compensation if diagnosed with asbestosis, a progressive lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Under the Bernie Banton Law, individuals may seek more compensation at a later date should their health problems develop into mesothelioma.
The Wrongs Act of 1958 granted full compensation for loss of income to anyone who was sickened due to exposure to asbestos on the job, but the law did not give the same rights to those individuals who were exposed to asbestos in non-occupational settings. In 2006, a new amendment granted compensation to individuals who were exposed to asbestos due to the environment or secondhand exposure.
In addition, the law of foreseeability states that a company or defendant “may not be liable for a disease or injury caused to a person unless the disease was ‘foreseeable’ in the event that a duty was breached.” This law is particularly relevant in cases involving low-level exposure, as with individuals who did not encounter asbestos on the job but, rather, through secondhand exposure or exposure in the home. Defendants can argue that the plaintiff’s minimal exposure could not have created “a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury.”
Also of issue is “causation,” which states that the plaintiff must prove that any negligent exposure to asbestos caused the development of their disease. To what extent one has been exposed has long been an issue in Australian courts, and the argument is bound to continue, experts say.
James Hardie Cases
In 2001, James Hardie Industries, the manufacturer of numerous asbestos products, established the Medical Research and Compensation Foundation with $293 million in funds to assist victims of asbestos exposure. Executives assured the public that the funding was sufficient to meet all future asbestos claims. The company then relocated to the Netherlands and announced in 2003 that the fund was “grossly under-funded.” Studies show that approximately 12,000 claims will most likely be filed against James Hardie Industries by 2012, and though the company added another $184.3 million to the fund in 2007, opinions differ as to whether this amount will cover all future claims.
- The University of Melbourne, http://archive.uninews.unimelb.edu.au/news/5164/index.html
- Safe Work Australia, www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
- Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.scgh.health.wa.gov.au/
- Peter Mac (2013). Retrieved fromhttp://www.petermac.orghttp://www.asbestosdiseases.org.au/asbestosinfo/medical_research.htmAsbestos Disease Research Institute (2012). Retrieved from adri.org.au/index.html
- Kerin, L. (November 13, 2009). Breakthrough in fight against mesothelioma. ABV News. Retrieved fromhttp://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/11/13/2741830.htmQuinlivan, B. (2009). New Bernie Banton Centre to Fight Asbestos Cancer. Radius, p 20. Retrieved fromhttp://sydney.edu.au/medicine/news/pubs/radiuscontents/2009/March/22_1_asbestos.pdfHerald Sun. (2008, January 1). Bernie Banton”s legacy is affordable mesothelioma treatment. Retrieved fromhttp://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/asbestos-disease-drug-gets-subsidy/story-e6frf7l6-1111115225442
- Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Inc. (2012). Retrieved fromhttp://www.asbestosdiseases.org.au/asbestosinfo/medical_research.htm
- Asbestos Disease Research Institute (2012). Retrieved from adri.org.au/index.html
- Kerin, L. (November 13, 2009). Breakthrough in fight against mesothelioma. ABV News. Retrieved fromhttp://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/11/13/2741830.htm
- Quinlivan, B. (2009). New Bernie Banton Centre to Fight Asbestos Cancer. Radius, p 20. Retrieved fromhttp://sydney.edu.au/medicine/news/pubs/radiuscontents/2009/March/22_1_asbestos.pdf
- Herald Sun. (2008, January 1). Bernie Banton”s legacy is affordable mesothelioma treatment. Retrieved fromhttp://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/asbestos-disease-drug-gets-subsidy/story-e6frf7l6-1111115225442
Information gathered from: www.asbestos.com
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a term for a group of six naturally occurring mineral fibres belonging to two groups:
- Serpentine Group – comprised of only chrysotile (white asbestos)
- Amphibole Group – comprised of anthophyllite, amosite (brown asbestos or grey asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), tremolite, and actinolite.
Asbestos was long viewed as one of the most versatile minerals because of its flexibility, tensile strength, insulation from heat and electricity, chemical inertness and affordability.
The versatility of asbestos made it attractive to many industries and is thought to have more than 3000 applications worldwide. Australia was one of the highest users per capita in the world up until the mid-1980s. Approximately one third of all homes built in Australia contain asbestos products. The widespread use of asbestos has left a deadly legacy of asbestos material.
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.
Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) can be categorised as friable and non-friable. Non-friable asbestos, 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. In the built environment, potential health risks are posed where there is:
- the presence of ambient levels of asbestos
- weathering of ACMs
- the presence of damaged ACMs
- building and/or maintenance work involving ACMs and
- demolition and/or removal of ACMs.
The risk of exposure from the built environment is broad, with the potential to impact the entire Australian community.
Asbestos in the home
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 your house was built after 1990, it is unlikely that it would have asbestos containing materials.
The use of ACMs in the home has been extensive and there are many areas in the home where ACMs can be found including (but not limited to):
- roof sheeting and capping
- gables, eaves/soffitswater pipes and flues
- wall sheeting (flat or a weatherboard style)
- vinyl sheet flooring
- carpet and tile underlays
- zelemite backing boards to the switchboards
- flexible building boards
- imitation brick cladding
- carports and sheds
- waterproof membrane
- telecommunications pits
- some window putty
- expansion joints
- packing under beams
- concrete formwork
It is not possible to determine whether a material contains asbestos by simply looking at it. The only way to be sure is to get a sample tested by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory.
Asbestos in the workplace
The Work Health Safety (WHS) Regulations set out the training and competency requirements for asbestos assessors, asbestos removal workers and supervisors. Under the Regulations, two licences have been established—Class A and Class B. Businesses with a Class A licence are permitted to remove all types of asbestos, including both friable and non-friable asbestos. Businesses with a Class B licence can only remove non-friable asbestos.
The WHS Regulations also create a new license category for asbestos assessors. The role of the licensed asbestos assessor is to carry out air monitoring and clearance inspections following removal of friable asbestos.
In addition, Safe Work Australia has developed two model Codes of Practice to provide practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking who have duties under the WHS Act and WHS Regulations. These model Codes of Practice are: How to Safely Remove Asbestos and How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace.
For further information on the requirements for working with asbestos under theWHS legislative framework, contact the WHS regulator in your state or territory.
Who to contact about asbestos issues
If the issue relates to a workplace or relates to work being conducted contact the work health and safety regulator in your state or territory.
If the issue relates to contamination of environment or the disposal and transportation of asbestos, contact the Environmental Protection Agency in your state or territory.
If you are concerned about non-work related issues such as a neighbour removing asbestos themselves, contact your local council. Links to your state or territory Department of Local Government have been provided – links to individual councils can be accessed through these departmental sites.
If the issue relates to public health issues, contact the Department of Health in your state or territory.
For information relating to asbestos training providers, please visit the Department of Industry’s My Skills website. Links to some asbestos removal courses have been provided.
If you are concerned that you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor.
Article Source: www.asbestossafety.gov.au
Links and information for the management of asbestos in the workplace
SAFE WORK NSW – Asbestos
HOW TO SAFELY REMOVE ASBESTOS – Code of Practice
PCBU’s DEFINITION – PCBU’s
How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace – Code of Practice
WorkCover Penalties – Work Health & Safety Legislation
Dept Fair Trading (Guide to loose fill asbestos) – Dept Fair Trading site