Did you know that many Australian homes built or renovated before or in the mid-1980's might be harbouring a deadly silent killer called asbestos? Take a look at asbestos from a broader perspective.
Many years back, asbestos was a gift to the construction industry. The material would be able to withstand decay, erosion, was fire and water resistant and was heat-proof. Australia was the leading user of asbestos, owing to it's over 3000 different ways that it would be applied, up until in the mid-1980's. This quickly changed after case studies indicated that this naturally occurring silicate material was a deadly carcinogen. By 2003, the Australian government had banned its use, reuse, import, manufacture, transport, and storage in all forms completely.
What are the dangers at home?
Asbestos has no "safe levels." Any exposure in whatever form will trigger it to release invisible fine particles, and if you breathe them in, chances of you developing lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma are high. Mesothelioma has no known cure and affects the lungs. The asbestos fibres can quickly travel long distances and will remain airborne for long.
Would my home have asbestos?
As stated earlier, the Australian government banned asbestos in any form in 2003. According to the government's Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, a third of all homes built in Australia contain asbestos products in some form. However, it is unlikely that your house has asbestos if it was constructed or renovated after 1990. It is likely to have the product if it was constructed or renovated between mid-1980 and 1990, but highly likely if it was before mid-1980.
What is safe?
Asbestos was used in internal wall sheeting and if found between the walls. If left untampered with, it is safe. Since it was also used in corrugated sheeting for roofing and fencing, it will pose no risk if left alone.
What should you do?
You cannot tell if a material has asbestos by looking at it. The best way if you have doubts is to get a sample tested for asbestos by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratories in Australia. While legally you can remove small amounts of the material, the best safety measure is to engage professional asbestos removal companies. The health risks associated with getting in contact with asbestos are so dire you shouldn't risk even with dust masks on.
In conclusion, you shouldn't panic if you suspect that your house might have asbestos products. Consult a professional asbestos removal company. The fact that conditions arising from exposure to asbestos are incurable such as mesothelioma should be enough to make you practice safety always.