If you own a property that was built in Adelaide before 1990, it is highly likely that it will contain asbestos-containing material (ACM). It is difficult to say whether a material contains fibre or not just by simply looking at it. A thorough inspection by a qualified assessor can identify potential ACMs within your building.
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Asbestos is highly toxic and was widely used in a large number of building materials including flooring, ceiling tiles,insulation, cements, joint compound, and more. It is important, therefore to test for the presence of asbestos before initiating any building repairs or improvements on structures that were built prior to 1980.
Asbestos has been used commonly in everyday products including homes, schools, buildings, and industrial locations due to its fibre strength and heat resistant properties. However, when asbestos- containing materials are damaged, the inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious illnesses such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.
ACM could be anywhere in your house
Before it was banned, it was used for over 2000 years in residential, public, industrial and commercial buildings. This means that there are many buildings in Australia that contain ACMs. In Adelaide, ACM is found in different products including fireproofing, thermal insulation, building materials, and electrical insulation. Fibrous products were in use in Adelaide even in the late 1990s. Some industrial and commercial buildings were either built or renovated using products that contained fibrous materials.
Unsure if you have an ACM at your building? The only way to ensure if your building has ACM is by getting it tested by a NATA certified laboratory. Below, you can find some reasons why you need to contact a competent contractor to perform identification/sampling process.
Reason #1: You are planning to do a renovation project
Whenever you are undertaking renovations in an older building in Australia, you are most likely to come across fibro sheeting. If your house was constructed before 1984, there is a high probability that it will contain ACM.
Reason #2: Potential health hazards from fibre exposure
Over 5000 deaths are caused by ACM every year. When young people have routine exposure to fibres, their risk of developing asbestos-related ailments is increased.
Generally, the major health risks that are associated with fibre exposure include mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer – Source
Symptoms of most ACM-related ailments take between 15 and 60 years to develop following the exposure. This means that the effects of these ailments will not be detected immediately but later in the life of a person. This is why you should have your building inspected for ACM immediately if you suspect that it has it and hire experts to remove it professionally.
Reason #3: DIY sampling can be dangerous
The regulation stated that you could collect the sample for checking purposes on your own if you live in a single house. But you should always keep in mind that working with this carcinogenic substance is dangerous and physically demanding.
It isn’t as easy as just looking at the material with the naked eye to see if it contains asbestos, the presence of asbestos in a material can only be confirmed by laboratory testing. Australian Standard AS 4964, Method for the qualitative identification of asbestos in bulk sample is the applicable standard for asbestos testing.