Asbestos is a collection of minerals that easily separate into long flexible fibres. It was historically mined for the manufacture of multiple products, commonly used in the construction of a diverse range of residential, commercial and non-residential structures. Asbestos was favoured as a cheap, durable, flexible material that was also provided natural insulation and fireproofing properties. When it was discovered that asbestos fibres were proven to cause cancers and other lung diseases such as Mesothelioma, a complete ban on its use was issued in Australia in 2003. Community and trade education programs were quickly implemented to ensure the safe management of asbestos in all forms.
Although many of us simply see asbestos as a thing of the past, the threats are real. Mesothelioma takes anywhere between 15-50 years to develop and once contracted, devastatingly there is no cure. Sadly, as a result, many individuals who have had long term exposure to asbestos see themselves as a ticking time bomb. It is unknown why some people are more likely to develop the disease as a result of exposure many years ago, but the rate of people affected is known to be at 10-20%.
In residential properties, asbestos products don’t need to be removed if they’re sealed and maintained in stable conditions. If left undisturbed because they are unlikely to release dangerous fibres posing health risks. However, in commercial and non-residential properties, if asbestos is detected it is vital that you act immediately to minimise the potential risk. A person who manages or controls a workplace must, within reason, make all attempts to eliminate or reduce the exposure of persons at the commercial property to airborne asbestos fibres.
Whilst asbestos that remains undisturbed is relatively harmless, the risk is that if agitated, the particles will disperse and become a possible danger
Keeping your environment free from the dangers of asbestos is vital. Although it may be tempting to wipe it off as an old-fashioned substance, the threat still remains incredibly real. Don’t mess with asbestos. It’s not worth the risk.