Asbestos was once one of the most popular building materials, praised for its versatility and its unique ability to withstand heat, decay and erosion. On top of that, the material has a high degree of fire and water resistance.
Non-friable asbestos, which cannot be pulverised or crumbled, was typically used in cement sheets, water, drainage and flue pipes and floor tiles in homes built before the mid-1980s. Another type of asbestos called friable asbestos was used mainly for industrial applications. Experts estimate that one out of three Australian homes contains asbestos.
Subsequently, countries around the world banned the use of asbestos after it was discovered that the release of the fine fibres of the materials and exposure to these fibres led to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. In Australia, the full ban on the use of asbestos became effective in 2003.
If you live in a home built before the mid-1980s and you suspect that asbestos has been used in building it, you will need to follow these top 10 asbestos safety tips.
Asbestos can be anywhere
Asbestos has been used extensively in homes and can be found in different products, from pipes to fibro sheeting to guttering and wall coverings.
Err on the side of caution
If you are planning to renovate your home or perform some work on it, err on the side of caution and assume that asbestos has been used in constructing your home. This is particularly important for homes built in the mid-1980s. If there is one asbestos safety tip that you have to follow, that would be to take no chances.
When not to DIY
If asbestos is present in your home, DIY may not be the best course of action to take. Take note that when asbestos is disturbed when you are working on a home project, you can compromise the health of the members of your household.
Call in the experts
If you are unsure whether asbestos is present in your home, do not leave everything to guesswork. Call in professional removalists and/or assessors to ascertain whether asbestos is indeed present in your home.
Asbestos in a home is a manageable problem
The presence of asbestos in a home is a serious concern that should not be overlooked. However, with proper precaution and the right action, it can be contained. Experts in handling the material can either remove asbestos or ensure that it cannot affect the health of your family.
You do not necessarily have to remove it from your home
When the professionals discover the presence of asbestos in your home, you can decide to simply keep it in your home. However, it is imperative that the material is left undisturbed in order to ensure that it remains in a stable condition and its fibres are not released.
When you find asbestos in your home, avoid doing anything with it. Do not even touch it. Leave all the work to the professionals who are qualified to handle it and understand all the legal requirements pertaining to the removal and disposal of asbestos.
Invest in the services of an expert
Contrary to the belief of some people that asbestos removal costs a small fortune, the service is actually affordable. And compared with the cost of putting your family’s health in danger, that small cost is incomparable.
Follow legal and safety requirements
If working with a material containing asbestos is unavoidable, your best recourse is to follow the legal and safety requirements for the handling and management of asbestos. Wear the appropriate asbestos safety gear and dispose of the material properly.
Don’t use power tools on materials containing asbestos
Doing so will disturb and distribute the fibres in the air.