Facts About Asbestos

The word “asbestos” comes from a Greek word that means “inextinguishable“. Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance that has been used extensively because of its heat strength, tensile strength, and insulating properties. Asbestos is a versatile product. Due to its ability to withstand heat, erosion and decay, and for its fire and water resistant properties, asbestos was widely used in building materials for residential premises until it started to be phased out in the 1980s. Despite the use of all forms of asbestos being banned nationally since 31 December 2003, building materials containing asbestos are still prevalent in our community today. The most commonly found building materials that contain asbestos are asbestos cement products.

There are some areas of a building where materials containing asbestos were more commonly used. The most accurate way to detect whether or not asbestos is present is to have a licensed asbestos assessor inspect and test the product or material where necessary. Attempting to sample the material or product yourself can be more hazardous than leaving it alone. If you’re not sure whether a product or material contains asbestos, it’s safest to treat it as though it does and take the necessary precautions.asbestos-removal-2

Repairs and renovations that involve removing, breaking, cleaning, cutting, drilling, filing, grinding, sanding or smashing materials that contain asbestos can potentially release very fine and dangerous asbestos fibres into the air where they can be easily inhaled. The use of high pressure water blasters to clean materials containing asbestos prior to painting can also release asbestos fibres.

It has been used in thousands of products:

  • Automotive Parts: brake pads, clutches, hood liners, gaskets and valves;
  • Tiles: Flooring, ceiling and roofing tiles were commonly made with asbestos. The adhesive used to lay down flooring tiles has also been a source of exposure
  • Cement: Asbestos-containing cement was used in building materials because the fibers provided strength without adding much weight. Its insulating and fire-resistant properties also made the mineral an ideal substance to add to cement;
  • Construction: adhesives, mastics and gunning mix, ductwork connectors, floor backing, drywall taping compounds, and insulation; and
  • Textiles: Asbestos was used in the production of cloths and garments for its resistance to heat and corrosive elements. Some of the most common textiles included blankets, fireman suits and rope.

There are six types of asbestos: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite.

Exposure to asbestos is linked to many diseases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma and has been described as a ticking time bomb because the health effects from exposure to asbestos may take 20 or more years to surface.

Asbestos poses health risks when the fibers are airborne and can be breathed in. When asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs they cause scarring that can lead to impaired lung function, asbestosis, and eventually cancer, mesothelioma. The best defense against breathing in asbestos fibers is awareness and understanding.




Speak Your Mind