How Does Asbestos Become Dangerous?

If you’ve heard of asbestos, you’re probably aware that being exposed to asbestos can cause serious health issues.

However, while asbestos exposure can have serious consequences on the health of the person exposed, merely being in the same room as asbestos or asbestos containing materials is not necessarily dangerous.

In this article, we’re going to discuss how asbestos becomes dangerous, how you can be exposed to it, and what you can do to avoid asbestos exposure in the first place.

Whether you work in an older building and you’re concerned about asbestos around you or you suspect that your home may contain asbestos, we may be able to help you understand your risk in this article. Keep reading to learn more.

Key Takeaways

  • Asbestos becomes dangerous when the fibres are easily disturbed or become loose, referred to as friable asbestos. 
  • Exposure to asbestos can occur during innocent acts such as home renovations and maintenance. 
  • One of the best ways to avoid accidental asbestos exposure is by ensuring you are aware of whether your home or property actually contains any asbestos.
  • An asbestos inspection and testing service can help identify asbestos around your home, as well as its condition. 
  • If asbestos in your home or building is identified but is non-friable, you may not need to opt for removal right away, however, it is necessary to ensure that the condition of the asbestos is monitored.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is the name of a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that were commonly used in a variety of building applications and materials between the 1950s to late 1980s in Australia.

Asbestos fibres were used in the construction industry because they were resistant to high temperatures, electricity, fire, water and insulative – all of which are positive in building products. Asbestos fibres were used on their own and often mixed in with other materials such as adhesives and cement to make other products.

Asbestos also became popular because in addition to the variety of benefits it had for creating effective building products, it was also naturally abundant, meaning it was very affordable to use.

The use of asbestos in any form was banned entirely in 2003, though by the early 1990s the use of it in building materials had rapidly declined due to the health risks it posed.

Why is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos fibres are known to cause several incurable illnesses, including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. These illnesses are caused by exposure to asbestos fibres, usually high levels of exposure, however, exposure has been known to affect people differently.

Asbestos fibres, when disturbed, can become easily airborne. Unfortunately, due to the microscopic size of asbestos fibres, they are not always able to be seen by the naked eye, so if they are airborne, you may be swallowing the fibres without even realising it.

When the asbestos fibres are swallowed, they can make their way into the lungs, deep into the tissue. The body may try to expel the foreign fibres, however, if they are deep enough into the tissue, this can be difficult to do. So the body tries to get rid of them by absorbing them. However, the body is unable to properly absorb them and instead, this creates scarring over the fibres, which can then cause respiratory issues and various other illnesses.

How does asbestos become dangerous?

When the asbestos fibres are easily disturbed or become loose, this is when asbestos is dangerous. When asbestos fibres are loose or easily disturbed, they are referred to as friable asbestos.

Asbestos can become friable in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Age and deterioration
  • Exposure to sunlight and weather
  • Cutting into asbestos containing products
  • Drilling asbestos containing products
  • Sanding asbestos containing products
  • Water-blasting asbestos containing products

The above list is not exhaustive.

How can I avoid exposure to asbestos?

For most people, exposure to asbestos is completely accidental and can occur during innocent acts such as home renovations and maintenance.

Many people may not be aware that a property contains asbestos or that a material in their home is asbestos containing because it can be quite difficult to identify these types of products – at least if you don’t have experience in the asbestos and occupational safety industry.

One of the best ways to avoid accidental asbestos exposure is by ensuring you are aware of whether your home or property actually contains any asbestos.

If your home, workplace or building was built between the 1940s and 2003, an asbestos inspection and testing service will be able to help you to identify asbestos around your home, as well as the condition it is in.

By knowing where asbestos is in your home, you can avoid it a lot easier and make informed decisions about what actions you should take.

Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos was used to create many different building materials, so the places it can be found in a home or building is quite varied. One of the most common building materials it was used in was cement sheeting, which can be found internally and externally in many homes and buildings.

As asbestos is heat and water resistant, it was most commonly used in wet room applications like the bathroom, kitchen and laundry.

Unfortunately it’s not possible to provide a list of areas of the home that will not contain asbestos as it could potentially be in any area of the home.

What should I do if I think there is asbestos in my home or in my workplace?

As we touched on above, the best first step to avoid exposure to asbestos is to have it identified on your property by organising an asbestos inspection and testing service team.

It’s best to work with an experienced asbestos team rather than trying to identify asbestos in your home or on your property yourself. Not only will it be accurately identified and laboratory tested, you can avoid accidental exposure from occurring at all.

At Asbestos Australia, we can help you. We offer asbestos inspection, testing and removal services for both residential and commercial properties in and around Melbourne, Victoria, Sydney, New South Wales, Adelaide and South Australia.

By working with our team, you can be rest assured that all asbestos materials will be identified.

Do I need to have asbestos removed?

Not necessarily – if asbestos in your home or building is identified but it is non-friable, you may not need to opt for removal right away – however, it’s entirely necessary to ensure that the condition of the asbestos is monitored. If asbestos is left to degrade, that’s when it can become even more dangerous.

We recommend that you consider asbestos removal for your home or property so your mind can be entirely at ease.

Our team of asbestos removalists can do the job efficiently, safely and most importantly, properly. You don’t need to worry about accidentally disturbing the asbestos or worry about whether there are any asbestos fibres floating around – not when you choose Asbestos Australia.

Call us today on (03) 9704 2952 to arrange your asbestos service in Australia.

Tommy Clappers

Tommy Clappers

Tommy Clappers is the Owner and Founder of Asbestos Australia Removalist specialising as a Class A & B Licensed Company with highly trained ticketed staff with over 25+ years in the industry in Friable & Non-Friable Commercial, Industrial & Domestic. He's well-skilled in all types of Asbestos Removal and Hazardous Materials. He's an expert in Encapsulation, Soil Remediation and Industrial Cleaning. He prides himself on creating safer environments for his team and his client's safety and ensuring every removal is safe and clean. He currently resides in Melbourne, Australia.

Posted By: Tommy Clappers

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