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In Australia, an estimated 60 percent or more of all production and 90 percent of all asbestos fibre consumption occurred in the cement manufacturing industry. Many buildings and homes constructed of this material are still in existence. What is worse is that these materials are still in use today in the building of some homes.
One main reason these were used is because of how durable and inexpensive they were for the building industry. After World War II through 1954, in New South Wales, 70,000 homes were built from cement containing asbestos. In NSW alone that makes up for about 52 percent of all homes.
In Australia, 25 percent of all new homes were built with asbestos cement through the 1960s. In Brisbane, QLD, it has been estimated that nearly 100 percent of homes built before 1976 contain asbestos products like asbestos sheeting. Another estimate is that out of all roofs built, 20 percent contained asbestos.
It is important that when work is to be done on your home, that a specialist in asbestos removal in Brisbane is called to assess the situation and advise you of the next safe steps.
Asbestos has not been used in home building since the 1980s. However, it was not until the end of December 2003 that asbestos was finally banned in of Australia. Since then, it has been illegal to store, import, supply, install, sell or even reuse asbestos materials. The ban does not apply to any asbestos already in use prior to this date.
This means that if your home was built or renovated before the year 1990, it is likely that it contains a form of asbestos. Most likely, it contains asbestos cement sheeting. How can you find out if your home has asbestos?
It is difficult to do this by looking at it. As a rule, most building products installed prior to the late 1980s were permitted to contain asbestos. The only way to be sure the home contains the material, however, is to have it analysed in a laboratory. Before doing any renovating or demolishing, be sure to have the home tested. If this is not a step you wish to take because of the cost, treat the building as if it contains asbestos.
Since 2003, asbestos has not been permitted in Australia. For this reason, no new construction can contain it. It has not been used in home building since the 1980s, in general.
Today’s homes contain cellulose fibres which are used together with other non-asbestos fibres like glass. Glass is often used in insulation products. Manufacturers of these products issue warnings about these products that adverse health effects to the skin or the throat can occur if dust from these products is accidentally inhaled.
Types of Asbestos Products Used in Home Building
There were two basic types of materials used in home construction in Australia that contain asbestos. The first is bonded or tightly-bound asbestos. This is also called non-friable asbestos. The other type is friable or loosely-bound asbestos.
Bonded asbestos contains a percentage of asbestos fibres embedded into a hardened cement. This was most commonly used in residential housing construction and is one of the types consumers can get money from from Australia’s new asbestos fund.
These were also called fibro, asbestos cement or AC sheeting. Bonded asbestos materials are considered to be less of a health risk than this type and can be handled more safely. If, however, the firm materials are found to be in disrepair, they can let out dust which contains a higher degree of unsafe asbestos.
Firmly-bound asbestos materials are also commonly found in fire protecting insulating boards. These are used in both commercial and residential buildings. Also electric panels, ceiling tiles and some wall linings contain the firmly-bound material. They often have a content of about 20 to 45 percent of asbestos in them.
While the loosely bound materials were found in some residential buildings, it should be noted that they were more common in industrial or commercial buildings. Their primary purpose was to offer sound proofing, insulation and fire protection.
Loosely-bound asbestos materials are not commonly found in residential properties and were primarily used in commercial structures to help fireproof them, sound-proof them and offer insulation. However, the loose form can still be found in some homes in heaters, stoves and hot water pipes. Some vinyl or linoleum floor tiles also contain the material. This is a dangerous form of asbestos because it easily turns to dust if touched.
There are acts in Australia aimed at compensating people who have suffered from a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma. For some people, this means that they can get money for being sickened by loose asbestos in a home.