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Over the next four decades, approximately 25, 000 Australians may die from asbestos-related conditions. This is according to Professor Julian Peto, the Head of the Cancer Research UK Epidemiology and Genetics Group in London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in his public lecture at the University of Melbourne.

With this perturbing revelation, many people are taking notice of the fact that asbestos may pose a serious threat to their health.

So today, to help you understand more about asbestos, we will be providing you with answers on the most frequently asked questions regarding this harmful fibrous mineral.

1. What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring silicate mineral that is widely used for many industrial applications, including car repairs and building constructions. This is also commonly used to create products like paints, adhesives, plastics, clutch pads, and building materials (e.g., floor tiles). The three types of asbestos are: brown or grey asbestos (amosite), blue asbestos (crocidolite) and white asbestos (chrysotile).

2. How does asbestos affect your health?

Breathing in asbestos fibres may lead to a number of serious health conditions, including asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs); mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs); and diffuse pleural disease (an irritation or inflammation of the membrane surrounding the lungs that leads to breathlessness). The risk of suffering from these asbestos-conditions may increase depending on the number of asbestos fibres a person has been exposed to.

3. When does asbestos pose a risk to your health?

Airborne asbestos fibres poses a health risk if it is inhaled. The embedded asbestos fibres may enter the body and irritate the lung tissues and the surrounding membrane, thereby causing a plethora of health problems.

Most people who have suffered health conditions from exposure to asbestos particles usually worked in either the asbestos milling industry or the asbestos mining. Others may have also worked in industries involved in manufacturing or installing asbestos products. In all these cases, the constant exposure to high levels of airborne asbestos dust is the cause of acquiring health conditions like lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

The symptoms of asbestos-related diseases may not appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos. Hence, asbestos-induced conditions will not affect a person immediately, but may cause health problems later in life.

4. Who is at risk of asbestos-induced conditions?

Anyone can be at risk of asbestos-related diseases. However, the people who are highly at risk of asbestos-induced conditions are those exposed to loose fibres, such as the workers in asbestos mining and manufacturing. Also, people who are working in the building construction are also at risk of suffering from asbestos-related conditions. Even those who are working at home or in an office building may be at risk of being exposed to asbestos particles.

5. How to avoid getting exposed to asbestos?

Asbestos exposure may occur anywhere, from your workplace, to the community, as well as in your home. Hence, you need to start protecting yourself against any exposure to asbestos as early as now by having an effective asbestos management plan. To do this, you must seek help from reliable consultants who can conduct an asbestos inspection to identify and confirm the location of asbestos-containing materials in your property, or in your community.

At Asbestos Check, we take pride in providing you with innovative and practical solutions to identify, assess and control asbestos-related health risks.

We provide independent asbestos testing, inspection and consulting services in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Our asbestos testing services focus on client needs and expectations in a timely, effective and efficient manner.

Author: Carl Strautins

Carl Strautins


Carl Strautins is a managing director of Safe Environments Pty Ltd a multi-specialist consultancy operating in the building, construction and property management industries. He provides the necessary guidance and risk minimisation strategies required by architects, construction companies and facility managers to ensure they mitigated their risk to property risk. He is engaged on a regular basis to provide expert opinion for disputes and legal proceedings. Click here to know more about him.