Written By Stuart Platt
22 December 2016
The threat is still out there
Asbestos is the name given to a group of six different fibrous minerals occurring naturally in our environment—amosite, chrysotile, crocidolite, and the fibrous varieties of tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which has low treatment and refinement costs. Its unique properties of fire resistance, tensile strength, sound absorption, low electrical conductivity and chemical resistance made it a cheap and simple way to solve many material design problems relating to housing. Asbestos is found in the most unexpected and unlikely of places, when well over 3000 products are asbestos containing material (ACM). The only definitive way to tell if it is asbestos is through sample analysis under microscopic examination. Fibrous cement sheeting made in the early 1980s with asbestos is visually identical to that made in the mid 1980s without asbestos.
Health Issues with Asbestos
The main asbestos-related diseases are mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural disease and cancer of the lung, larynx and ovary. In addition, positive associations have been observed between exposure to all forms of asbestos and cancer of the pharynx, stomach, and Colo rectum. These diseases develop after a person inhales or ingests asbestos fibres. These diseases have the potential to cause significant health problems and even death. Asbestos can pose a health risk when airborne fibres are generated either through degradation or high energy mechanical action e.g. drilling or sanding. The degree of asbestos fibre release, and inhalation or ingestion exposure, is partly dependent upon the type of material binding the asbestos, its general condition and the product type. Friable asbestos poses a significant threat to human health. This type of asbestos material is usually soft and easily crumbles into a fine material or dust. All asbestos should be treated as potentially life threatening.
If you need to remove or disturb asbestos at home or the workplace it is important that you engage a qualified asbestos removalist. You also need to ensure that all the risks in relation to asbestos removal and management are identified and communicated to all employees and subcontractors. IF you are removing firmly-bound asbestos, we suggest that you wear disposable personal protective equipment (PPE). Double wrap the material in strong, thick (at least 0.2mm) plastic bags labelled as “Asbestos”. Dispose of the material along with the breathing apparatus and protective clothing at an appropriate waste treatment centre.
What Good asbestos removal looks like;
All bundles of asbestos are double wrapped and labeled
Workers are appropriately dressed.
All waste is disposed of accordingly.