What is Asbestos? Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found in the surface of the earth. It contains strong fibres that have excellent durability, fire resistance and insulating properties. Asbestos fibres are 50 to 200 times thinner than a human hair (and even smaller when it is processed into manufactured products), these fibres can float in the air for a long time (up to 3 months in a closed off room!), it can be invisible to the naked eye and is potentially dangerous when inhaled into the lungs.
In the past, asbestos was mined from the ground and manufactured into many different materials and unbelievably still is in some developing countries! Materials containing asbestos were very common in the Australian residential building industry between the 1940′s and late 1980’s before their production stopped. Asbestos wasn’t completely banned for use and import into Australia until 31st December 2003! The ban does not apply to asbestos installed prior to this date (eg. asbestos materials in houses).
This is a very simple explanation about asbestos and what it is. If you require further information please email us and we will reply with further information.
WHITE Asbestos. This has soft, white curly fibres and was the type most commonly used.
BROWN asbestos. This has straight, harsh grey to brown fibres and was often used in situations where additional strength was required, such as in the manufacture of asbestos-cement pressure pipes.
BLUE asbestos. This has straight, blue fibres, and the fibres tend to be very fine. Blue asbestos tends to have been used in situations in which acid resistance was particularly needed.
All three types of asbestos pose health risks and are now banned in Australia.
Asbestos products were manufactured in two forms, friable asbestos and non-friable asbetsos. Asbestos-containing materials are categorized as friable or non-friable in order to show how easily they may release asbestos fibres when disturbed.
Most asbestos products in Australia were made of non-friable material in which the Asbestos fibres were bonded by cement, vinyl, resin or other similar material.
If accidentally damaged or broken these asbestos products release small amounts of asbestos fibres but in general they are more coarse and do not pose as high of a risk as friable asbestos does, although still dangerous by its very nature.
The hazardous friable asbestos is material which can be crumbled, pulverised, or reduced to a powder consistency by hand pressure* (as a rule). This may also include previously non-friable material which becomes broken or damaged by mechanical force, water or other damage.
As a general rule – If the Asbestos containing material can be easily disturbed and become air borne – by the effect of a breeze or simply creating a breeze by walking past it – it is in a friable state.
As Asbestos products were very versatile they could be easliy molded, shaped, cut drilled or painted. There continues to be no conclusive on-site testing for the presence of asbestos. Asbestos products can only conclusively be determined through laboratory testing following sampling. Need a sample? Click here for more info on sampling/testing asbestos.
As a general guideline, if you think the material is asbestos – treat it as if it is asbestos until proven through laboratory testing.
It can be very difficult to identify asbestos, let us help you by completing an asbestos sample.
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