Common Mistakes People Make When It Comes to Asbestos

It’s fair to say that there is a lot of information out there about asbestos.

This information is often varied and confusing and can come from a wide variety of sources – some more reliable than others.

As asbestos removalists, we’ve got quite a bit of training and experience under our belts, more than 20 years of experience actually.

Over the last 20 years, we’ve undergone extensive training to learn as much as we can about asbestos, including the dangers associated with it and how best to handle it.

Unfortunately, as the use of asbestos has died down, so to has the general conversation about asbestos, and there are many people out there who don’t know enough about asbestos.

So, today, we want to talk to you about why we think the knowledge of asbestos might be limited amongst the general public, as well as some of the common mistakes people make when it comes to asbestos, so you know what to avoid in the future.

Why people are not as aware of asbestos as they should be

During our time in this industry, we’ve seen that the knowledge about asbestos in the general population is very varied.

Asbestos has had ebbs and flows in terms of when it is a popular topic.

This is probably because the time that asbestos was most commonly used was long before the people who are buying homes and potentially coming to contact with asbestos now were even born.

You see, the use of asbestos as a building material peaked from the late 1950s to early 1980s. During this time, many homes were constructed using some sort of asbestos containing building material. In some instances, it might only be a small amount, in other instances, asbestos could potentially be found in every room of the home.

Australia actually had one of the highest per capita uses of asbestos in the world, and it’s estimated that as many as 1 in every 3 homes built between the 1950s and 80s contains asbestos in some capacity.

As asbestos use was quite prevalent, it meant that the exposure incidents were also a lot more common. However, as you may be aware, asbestos exposure can lead to very serious health consequences, including incurable illnesses. The complication is that these health problems tend to have a long latency period, which means that the symptoms and subsequent diagnosis usually only occur after a long period of time has passed since the exposure. In the case of asbestos exposure, some symptoms may not be present until 20 years after the exposure occurred.

As the peak usage was between the 1950s and 80s, a lot of people only started to show signs of illness from the 1980s-2000s.

The use of asbestos in Australia was totally banned in 2003, and as you may be doing the maths now, a lot of younger people who are buying homes and renovating them, were only born around this time.

As we’ve had a lot of experience working with asbestos and understanding the issues that come with it, we think it’s important to know about the simple mistakes people can easily make when it comes to asbestos. So, keep reading to learn what you should avoid doing when it comes to asbestos.

Don’t make these asbestos related mistakes

1.      Buying a house without getting an asbestos inspection

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, it’s obviously a huge investment that requires a lot of research, time and effort.

You need to find a home in an area you like or need to live in, you want to hopefully like the home, and you want to be able to afford it too. However, sometimes you need to make sacrifices or change your priorities to meet your needs.

This could include potentially purchasing a home that has asbestos present.

If you’re buying a home that was built after 1950 and before asbestos was banned in 2003, then you should definitely organise to have an asbestos inspection.

While for the most part we suggest you avoid asbestos as much as possible, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy a house that has asbestos in it. But if you do, you should be aware that you’re doing so, and also understand the condition the asbestos is in too.

If the asbestos is in good condition, is not deteriorating or considered friable, you may not need to do anything other than monitor it. If the asbestos is in bad condition or in lots of places, then you either need to get it removed or not buy the house at all.

But the most important thing you can do is to have your house inspected and tested (if required) for asbestos by a professional.

Here at Asbestos Australia, we can help you organise asbestos inspections and testing. We work closely with independent Environmental Hygienists.

2.      Starting a home renovation without checking for asbestos first

Just like when you’re buying a house, if you’re planning to perform renovations on a home, it’s a good idea to first have your home inspected and/or tested for asbestos.

During renovations you’re likely to be doing all sorts of things that can easily disturb asbestos fibres – from sanding to grinding, cutting to drilling, and basically anything you do with a power tool. Even when asbestos containing materials are in good condition and non-friable, if you cut into them, that increases your chances of being exposed to them.

If you are a home DIY-er, the likelihood of you being able to confidently identify asbestos is a lot less than an asbestos specialist, so it’s a really good idea to hire a professional to inspect your home before commencing any renovations.

After an asbestos inspection and/or testing service, you will be provided with a report that clearly identifies all asbestos present, so you know whether you need to remove it before proceeding with your renovations or if it is confined to one area of the home, and won’t be impacted by your renovation, then you know you’re going to be safe.

3.      Assuming you can remove the asbestos yourself

When it comes to asbestos removal there are only very limited circumstances in which you can perform an asbestos removal yourself. Asbestos removal, handling and disposal is highly regulated by the Australian government, and if the rules and regulations are not followed, then you may be subject to fines.

In most states of Australia, including Victoria, a non-licensed person can remove asbestos as long as it is less than 10 square metres and non-friable. While this be suitable for some people, in most instances asbestos removal involves larger quantities and it’s not always non-friable.

The other important thing to note that once asbestos is removed, it needs to be prepared, wrapped, transported and disposed of in a specific manner and at specific asbestos disposal sites. This is often a lot of hassle for someone who is inexperienced, and accidental exposure can be quite common.

While you might want to try to save yourself some cash, asbestos removal isn’t as expensive as you may think, and for peace of mind of a job done properly, having a professional take care of it is going to remove the hassle from you entirely.

4.      Underestimating the damaging effect asbestos can have on your health

It’s very easy to assume that the health conditions associated with asbestos may be being blow out of proportion. However, they couldn’t be any more serious.

Exposure to asbestos has extremely serious health ramifications, including conditions such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis – each of which is incurable.

One of the most frightening aspects of asbestos related health conditions is that you’re not necessarily going to be aware that you’ve been exposed to asbestos in the first place.

Asbestos fibres are very small and lightweight. When they are airborne it can be difficult to see them with the naked eye, and they can also travel quite a long way in the air. This means that if you accidentally disturb asbestos and you’re not wearing appropriate protective wear, then you can easily be exposed.

While many of the health conditions associated with asbestos do take extended or repeated exposure to asbestos to cause problems, it’s not always the case.

The best practice is to be safe and choose to work with a professional asbestos removalist.

5.      Going for cheapest asbestos removalist service

We get it – you want to get a good deal on your asbestos removal. But sometimes you do need to take a step back and do some research before you commit to a service.

As we’ve mentioned, the removal of asbestos is a very complicated process that can easily be done incorrectly – especially when you work with someone who is inexperienced.

When you’re looking for an asbestos removalist, you should ensure that they are licensed, preferable a Class A, as this means they can remove any and all kinds of asbestos legally and safely.

You also want to take the time to read their reviews and make sure their past customers have had positive experiences.

Our other recommendation is to get quotes from multiple companies. A great asbestos removalist should be able to provide you with a quote for their services free of charge. This way, you can use the quote to determine the prices you can expect to pay. If someone is offering their service at a significantly lower price, this might be a sign to avoid them.

When it comes to asbestos removal, you’ve got to make a safe decision as it can impact a lot of people.

When you need asbestos removal services

If you’re located in Melbourne, Geelong, Gippsland or anywhere else in Victoria, at Asbestos Australia we can help you. We offer a wide range of asbestos services, including asbestos removal from both residential and commercial properties.

Our team has over 20 years of experience in the asbestos industry and we’re here to help you today. So, get in touch with us by giving us a call or filling in our enquiry form online.

Posted By: Asbestos Australia Removalist

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