For much of the 20th century, asbestos was used in many building products and the construction industry considered it one of the most important materials for insulation. However, over the years, the dangerous and cancerous effects of asbestos have become well-known.
Find out why asbestos has been banned from the building industry worldwide and why there are still quite a few homes in Australia that may have it. If you suspect that you have asbestos in your home, you must contact a professional immediately for testing, and to have it removed if it is present.
Why Asbestos Was Used
As a construction material, asbestos was fantastic and there were several reasons for this. The following properties are what made it such a popular building material:
- It is extremely strong
- It is cheap to produce and purchase
- Provides sound insulation
- Provides heat insulation
- Has fire protection properties
- It is resistant to chemicals
- It is resistant to water
- It is resistant to electricity
Asbestos has been used for thousands of years because it is a natural building material. The use of asbestos goes as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans.
During the world’s industrial revolution, asbestos became popular across the world, including in Australia. Because it was cheap and provided fire resistance and sound insulation, it was one of the go-to materials for any building project. It became a commercial product and was imported in huge quantities for the building of new houses. The Australian Asbestos Network estimates that over one million homes in Australia were built using asbestos sheeting, and many more homes contain asbestos in other forms. This is because asbestos was used in hundreds of commercial products in the mid-20th century.
The following are some examples of building products that often included asbestos:
- Textured paint
- Ceiling and roof tiles
- Floor tiles
- Insulating boards
- Fire doors and blankets
- Electrical panels
- Toilet seats
In the past, asbestos was used in all kinds of buildings including schools, hotels, hospitals, homes, and much more. Of course, this was before people realized how dangerous asbestos is and before there was significant research into asbestos safety.
Asbestos Safety & Why It’s so Dangerous?
The properties of asbestos that make it great for building are also horrible for human health. The problem comes from the microscopically thin fibers of asbestos.
The fibers inside asbestos are so strong that they cannot be broken down by the human body. This means that if you were to inhale or ingest these fibers, they would be stuck inside your body forever.
The most worrying fact about asbestos safety is that the fibers are so sharp that they can slice through lung tissue. This is why asbestos was often the cause of lung cancer and mesothelioma for so many Australians and people around the world.
Even though asbestos has been banned, many people are still dying because of it years later. This is because asbestos is still present in many homes and workplaces, and the symptoms of an asbestos problem in the body may take 10 or more years to develop, which is why so many people don’t know that they have inhaled or ingested asbestos until it becomes too late.
Asbestos has been banned in Australia since December 2003, but there are still buildings and homes that contain asbestos.
If your building or home was built before 1990, chances are it contains asbestos in some form, and the best thing to do is to get a professional inspector to have a look at the building. They will use modern technology to locate asbestos if it does exist, and to determine how dangerous it is (friable v. non-friable asbestos). If it is present, you will have several choices on how to deal with the matter. The most important thing to remember is that you want to get rid of asbestos as soon as possible for the health of everyone who comes into the building or your home. Contact QBM for Brisbane asbestos testing and inspections.