Asbestos was widely used in construction in the late 1800s because of its heat resistant, fire resistant, chemical resistant and insulating properties. However, it was banned in different continents including Australia because of health risks associated to prolonged exposure of the material.
When asbestos fibres are inhaled, they damage the respiratory and digestive tract and lead to mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Even a tiny bit of exposure to asbestos fibres can be detrimental to your health which is why the Australian government declared a total ban of using asbestos on December 31, 2003.
For improved health and safety regulations, it’s best to learn how to detect asbestos in your own home and business spaces.
Here are the top 3 guidelines you need to know:
1. Inspect Your Building and Check the Materials Used.
Asbestos containing materials were most popular before the 1980s. They were used for insulation and most often for construction. If the building was built before the 1980s then there is a very high chance that asbestos is within and it is best to remove it before it starts to degrade.
However, if the building is relatively new it is still important to do a quick asbestos check because some of the materials removed during those years could have been recycled to be used for new buildings.
Where Asbestos is Usually Found
In order to easily detect asbestos in the building, it is important to know where they are usually found. Asbestos fibres are usually detected in other materials such as:
- Cement sheets – these are often used for the roof because of its high heat resistance.
- Vinyl tiles – These type of tile is commonly installed in bathrooms, pipes and other areas that are often wet because asbestos is waterproof.
- Sprayed coatings – these are frequently used on walls; it is the most dangerous of all asbestos containing materials because these are most prone to degradation and are easily inhaled.
2. Get an Asbestos Sample.
It is best to make sure that asbestos is removed. Sometimes, a simple visual check is not enough. It is recommended to have things tested, or to get a sample of the materials that are to be tested for asbestos content. Getting asbestos samples is best left to the experts and to safely remove a sample for testing, the following must be observed:
- Seal off the area where the sample is to be taken; make sure that there are no pets or children around.
- Wear protective gear, asbestos is toxic if inhaled, ingested or if it enters the human body so gloves, mask, and protective eye wear is advised.
- Mix water with a little bit of detergent and place it inside a spray bottle, this will be used to dampen the sample about to be removed in order for minimal release of airborne asbestos fibre.
- Use appropriate tools to collect the material; it is advisable to make sure that all the layers of the material are sampled in order to be thorough.
- Place an adequate amount of the material into a zip-lock plastic bag and seal it, double the zip-lock bag in order to make sure that the material does not spill.
- Submit the sample collected to NATA accredited asbestos testing facilities.
3. Contact Asbestos Testing Experts.
There are many other areas where asbestos can hide, so it is best to leave the asbestos check to the experts. Asbestos testing by Safe Environments use asbestos detection equipment to know if asbestos is in the building.
Some of these asbestos detection equipment include:
- Handheld Spectroscopy – this portable device uses light to determine asbestos content.
- Magnetic Field – this handheld machine uses lasers and magnets to determine asbestos content.
Create a safe working and residential environment for your family and company. Call Safe Environments at 02 9621 3706 if you are in Syndey or 03 9604 0700 if you are in Melbourne.