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Find a local asbestos expert

    How to identify asbestos

    Why this is a project you should leave to professionals

    Alex | Oneflare

    What is asbestos?

    Not all minerals are good. Asbestos is one example of how naturally occurring minerals can have an adverse effect on humans. Mined to bring stability to concrete-like products, it was discovered that the fine fibres of these minerals were causing cancer in humans. By the time asbestos showed its true markings, one in three homes in Australia had used products with this deadly mixture.

    Why is asbestos dangerous, and how much asbestos exposure is harmful?

    No amount of asbestos exposure is considered safe. While daily mining and manufacturing of asbestos are certainly the most high-risk, minimum exposure can show up later in life. Because filaments and dust particles associated with asbestos are not visible to the naked eye, special asbestos testing can only determine the amount of asbestos that each structure has. 

    Asbestosis is the result of inhaling asbestis fibers. It is a chronic lung disease that causes lung tissue to scar. This disease can take 10 to 40 years to form and can be mild to severe. Signs of asbestosis include:

    • Feeling short of breath
    • Dry, persistent cough
    • Weight loss, no appetite
    • Tightness in chest

    Mesothelioma is a tumour formed from asbestos exposure. Unlike asbestosis, the life expectancy is ten years. There is no cure. Chemotherapy and radiation may improve prognosis, but the end result is usually fatal. 

    Employees that worked with insulation, bricks, and concrete in the 50s and 60s have suffered the most with the regular exposure to asbestos dust. Breathing in the dust irritates the lungs and causes a place for cancer to grow. 

    Source: Shutterstock

    Materials and tools

    Removing asbestos is no feat for the untrained. There are special equipment, supplies, and specific knowledge that professional asbestos removal companies possess. A few of these specialty items include:

    • Restraint from falling
    • Trash bags-black asbestos labelled
    • Gloves bags-Grayling
    • Air scrubbers
    • Mastic removers
    • HEPA vacs

    How to identify asbestos

    There are no outward signs of asbestos in products. Only by being tested by the National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA) can the presence of asbestos be verified. However, since the number of products that used asbestos is so broad, care in every situation is given. Some of these products include:

    • linoleum
    • roofing
    • cement floors
    • internal and exterior walls
    • insulation

    Asbestos symptoms are often realized from the age and construction of the materials in question. If unsure, they can be sent off for testing. A licensed surveyor can also take samples of materials and submit them for test results. The average cost of their services is $520.00.

    Contact local asbestos experts

    Other asbestos-containing materials

    Asbestos-containing materials can be found in products manufactured before the 1980s, including asbestos plasterboard, underlay, and fake brick cladding asbestos. 

    • Asbestos plasterboard: A drywall panel made from a gypsum plaster core and reinforced with asbestos fibers. It was commonly used in walls and ceilings for its fireproof and insulating properties.
    • Asbestos underlay: A type of insulation material made out of asbestos fibers that were commonly used to insulate floors in homes and buildings constructed prior to the 1990s.
    • Fake brick cladding asbestos: A thin layer of bricks applied to the exterior or interior of buildings to give the appearance of real bricks without the added weight and cost. Some fake brick cladding products were made with asbestos-containing materials, which were added to the cement or adhesive used to bond the bricks, and have since been identified as hazardous.

    Villaboard and asbestos: Does Villaboard contain asbestos?

    Villaboard is a popular lining product that is commonly used in both residential and commercial construction projects. It’s a type of cement-based sheet that is used as an interior lining for walls and ceilings. It is a highly versatile product suitable for high-moisture areas, making it ideal for wet areas such as bathrooms, laundries and kitchens.

    Does Villaboard contain asbestos?

    Most building materials manufactured before the 1980s contain some level of asbestos. This includes products like fibro sheeting, cladding and roofing, insulation, and older versions of Villaboards manufactured prior to the 1990s. 

    It is difficult to identify the presence of asbestos in Villaboard without conducting laboratory testing. It’s best to assume that any construction materials used prior to the 1990s could contain asbestos. If you suspect the presence of asbestos in Hardies Villaboard or other lining materials, have it professionally tested and removed. 

    Why you should always leave asbestos removal to a professional

    Asbestos removal cost is not cheap. Depending on your location in Australia and how many square meters are involved, it can run several thousands of dollars. 

    Asbestos awareness should be left up to asbestos removalists experienced in what to look for and where. Asbestos removal should only be undertaken by a licensed and qualified professional in accordance with strict regulations and guidelines.

    It is required for asbestos removalists to be licensed. There are two types of Asbestos Removal Licences: Class A and Class B. Class A removalists are trained to remove all signs of asbestos, while Class B can only handle solid asbestos material. An asbestos inspection can be performed and materials tested for asbestos. 

    Source: Shutterstock

    How to hire an asbestos removalist

    Hiring an asbestos removalist is more about the experience than the cost. There are several steps required in securing the property, planning on demolition, proper discarding, and making sure that all laws and regulations are being followed. Look for a seasoned company and prepared for any mishaps that could occur. Notifications need to be sent to surrounding properties, and the air quality is routinely tested. 

    Verify credentials, including license, certifications, and work experiences. It is imperative that they strictly comply with the national and state-wide Work Health and Safety Regulations to help validate their knowledge and expertise.

    Licensing requirements vary across Australia. In some states like NSW, asbestos removal specialists and businesses are required to obtain a license when removing asbestos or asbestos-containing materials.

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