The Many Varieties Of Asbestos
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral and can typically be found in rock, sediment or soil. It has strong fibres that are heat resistant and have good insulating properties. You can’t see asbestos fibres with the naked eye and because they are very light, they can be blown long distances by the wind.
Removing asbestos, unless you’re removing less than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos, you must be licensed to remove asbestos. If you are removing less than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos it is still recommended that you engage a licensed removalist and undertake asbestos awareness training.
A total ban on asbestos came into effect in Australia on 31 December 2003. It is illegal to make it, use it or import it from another country. Workers must not handle asbestos unless they have been trained and hold a licence that is current and appropriate for the type of work being done.
Non-friable or bonded asbestos products are solid and you can’t crumble them in your hand—the asbestos has been mixed with a bonding compound such as cement. If non-friable asbestos is damaged or degraded it may become friable and will then pose a higher risk of fibre release.
Asbestos was once used in Australia in more than 3,000 different products including fibro, flue pipes, drains, roofs, gutters, brakes, clutches and gaskets. Asbestos becomes a health risk when its fibres are released into the air and breathed in. Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
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