Frequently Asked Questions
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found in the ground. It contains strong fibres that have excellent durability, fire resistance and insulating properties.
- Asbestos fibres are 50-200 times thinner than a human hair
- Asbestos fibres can float in the air for a long time
- Asbestos fibres can be invisible to the naked eye
- Asbestos fibres can be breathed into the lungs
Asbestos was manufactured into many different materials commonly found in the Australian building industry between the 1940s and the late 1980s. All forms of asbestos have been nationally banned from use since 31 December 2003.
Please remember! You can not tell that a product contains asbestos by the naked eye. The only proven method to identify asbestos in materials is to have a sample analysed.
Action Asbestos has always taken a professional view of what is a legally complex and logistically challenging market. Our workers are extensively trained in every aspect of the industry and ensure we meet the requirements of The Department of Environmental and Conservation with every project.
Action Asbestos works by strict OH&S guidelines while maintaining a high level of productivity. The measures taken to ensure the safety of our workers, clients and also the environment are most important.
“Action Asbestos” ensures that the removal of asbestos is carried out in accordance with all relevant OH&S Codes of Practice and that all disposal of waste is in accordance with The Department of Environment and Conservation (formerly EPA) requirements and at an approved disposal depot.
Current scientific and medical evidence supports the fact that simply living or working in a building containing asbestos is not dangerous as long as the asbestos is in good condition (i.e. undamaged).
The people at most at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres are those people more likely to frequently undertake repairs, renovations and other work which can generate the release of asbestos fibres into the air.
However, asbestos is only a risk to health when asbestos fibres are inhaled. Most fibres are removed from your lungs by your body’s natural defences (e.g. coughing), however some fibres can remain in the lungs.
While the risk to health increases with the number of fibres inhaled and with frequency of exposure, no safe level of asbestos exposure for lung cancer or mesothelioma has been identified. All types of asbestos can break into fibres so small that once they get into the air, they can remain airborne and be inhaled into the lungs, making it difficult for the body to remove them. This has been known to cause asbestosis, mesothelioma, pleural plaques and lung cancer.
Breathing in asbestos fibres has been linked to three asbestos related diseases, all of which can be fatal. Asbestos-related diseases take time to develop. They usually emerge at least 10 years after exposure, and sometimes as long as 50 years later. Currently there are no cures for these diseases.
A chronic lung disease that can lead to respiratory impairment and to diseases such as lung cancer. Asbestosis causes widespread interstitial fibrosis (scar tissue between the alveoli, spread over the lung).
It is difficult to distinguish from other causes of interstitial fibrosis and only confirmation of exposure to asbestos or detection of unusually high numbers of asbestos fibres in the lung is considered conclusive evidence of this disease.
A cancer of the lining of the pleura (outer lung lining) or of the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity).
- It is a rare disease – incidence is 1 in every 100,000 for males and 0.3 in every 100,000 for females.
- Asbestos is not the only cause of this disease, but it is the most important cause in modern times.
- Crocidolite is the most important asbestos-related factor, but amosite, chrysotile and tremolite are also linked.
- This disease takes 20-50 years to appear, with the highest risk around 30-35 years after exposure.
- It is typically dose-related, but in rare cases has been known to occur in patients with little known occupational exposure to asbestos.
Cannot be distinguished from those cancers that are caused by other agents such as tobacco smoke.
- Lung cancer is relatively common among the general public and is the cancer most frequently associated with asbestos.
- Tumours grow and eventually obstruct airways.
- No characteristics specify a lung cancer as being caused by asbestos – we cannot distinguish a cigarette lung cancer from an asbestos lung cancer or another lung cancer.
- Smoking multiplies by 10 the risk of death due to lung cancer for asbestos workers
Play it safe with asbestos. If you are unsure whether a material contains asbestos, assume that it does and call us!
It can be difficult to tell whether a building has asbestos containing materials just by looking at it. As a general rule, if the building was built before 1990 it is highly likely that it would have some materials containing asbestos.
In Australia asbestos is generally found in the form of Asbestos Cement. The cement is used in sheeting such as:
- Wall sheets
- Roofing sheets
- Fencing sheets
The cement was also used in drainage and guttering pipes.
Asbestos is also found in other building products such as:
- Fire blankets and ropes
- Pipe insulation
- Sprayed Limpet
- Insulation board
- Floor tiles and lino
In the past, asbestos has been known to be found in items such as:
- Cigarette filters
- Ironing boards
- Fake snow
Take a look at some of the common locations of Asbestos in houses and commercial buildings: