The range of products that contain asbestos is often larger than you might think. As many homeowners undertake home improvements and repairs at this time of year, it’s important to understand the risks of asbestos. According to Asbestos Awareness, these are the most important points to remember when dealing with asbestos or material suspected of containing asbestos:
- Most people can’t tell whether building materials contain asbestos just by looking at them.
- Unless you take the required safety precautions and follow regulations, Don’t cut it! Don’t drill it! Don’t drop it! Don’t sand it! Don’t saw it! Don’t scrape it! Don’t scrub it! Don’t dismantle it! Don’t tip it! Don’t waterblast it! Don’t demolish it! And whatever you do… Don’t dump it!
- Only scientific testing of a sample of material by an accredited National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) asbestos testing laboratory can confirm the presence of asbestos.
- Asbestos materials that are in good condition are unlikely to release asbestos fibres if left undisturbed.
We’ve compiled a list of common places that asbestos can be found and understanding the risks when working with it is a must.
In many homes and workplaces, asbestos can be found in abundance in bathrooms. Adhesives, mastics, putty, sealants, plasters and paints are the various types of adhesives known to contain asbestos. They include emulsion adhesives, used to bond synthetic laminates, like roofing or floor tiles, to wood and timber; asbestos-containing vinyl floor coverings; and asbestos cement sheeting or fibro, where asbestos fibres are bound within the cement matrix and are considered to be well immobilised in the cement and less prone to be released into the environment, although they still present risk.
Areas with wet and dry elements were commonly built utilising asbestos-containing products through the 1920s all the way through to the 80s. These include millboard, which was commonly used due to its flame-resistant durability above fireplaces and stove-tops; tilux, often used as splashbacks in kitchens and laundries, and contains Amosite (brown asbestos), Chrysotile (white asbestos), Crocidolite (blue asbestos); and bituminous membrane which was used for waterproofing on floors.
Many homes built or renovated before 1980 contain asbestos elements in their exterior. This can include asbestos cement sheeting, used for panelling the outside of a building, as ceiling panels and over time they can become friable. They can also contain three types of asbestos: Amosite (brown asbestos), Chrysotile (white asbestos) and Crocidolite (blue asbestos). Window and joining strips can also contain asbestos particles and were commonly used around architraves, doors, windows and window sills. While it is non-friable, it also contains white asbestos. The eaves of homes are also a common area to find asbestos, as until the mid-late 1980s they were constructed of bonded asbestos sheeting, which contained Amosite, Chrysotile and Crocidolite.
While this seems like a large list of places asbestos might be found in the home, it is not exhaustive and asbestos may be present despite the home not utilising the above products. It’s important to understand the risks of asbestos before undertaking any work around the home, and for important information about working with asbestos read more at the SafeWork list of codes of practices site.
Trinitas Group is able to provide an extensive range of asbestos management services in the instance of asbestos being present in your home or building. For a full range of our available services, please see our Asbestos Management Page or contact us here.