Asbestos Resources and Information
Are you looking for comprehensive information about asbestos? Provided here are an extensive range of resources, information, and links for the safe handling of asbestos-containing material in Australia
List of contents:
What is asbestos?
Asbestos refers to a naturally occurred mineral and made up of tiny and durable fibers. This material was praised for its usefulness and versatility. It is also known for its heat resistance, insulating properties, and tensile strength. Asbestos fiber was extensively used in many commercial products and building construction materials.
Many people used asbestos in the past. Its combination of strength and resistance to heat made it become the material of choice in a variety of commercial products; from floor tiles roofing shingles, cement compounds, ceiling materials, textile products, to automotive parts.
Due to many desired abilities of asbestos material, it is then widely manufactured and mined, particularly in Australia. As a result of wide application of asbestos, many Australian residential buildings, and commercial properties used fibrous substance as the material construction.
Types of asbestos
Asbestos consists of six unique materials that belong to the amphibole and serpentine mineral families. They are chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite.
Chrysotile is the most regularly used form of asbestos material. You can find this type of fiber in roofs, walls, ceilings, and floors of residences and businesses. This substance was also applied in pipe insulation, gaskets, automobile brake linings, and boiler seals.
Based on asbestos studies, crocidolite is the type of fiber substance which possibly responsible for more deaths than other type of asbestos fibers. It’s because crocidolite fibre is thinner than other fibrous material types.
The diameter of crocidolite is almost the same as a strand of hair. Thus, if the material goes airborne, crocidolite fiber can be easily breathed and remains in the lining of our lungs. Once it’s lodged inside our body, the fibers do not unravel easily.
This situation can lead to life-threatening lung and abdominal illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Exposure to amosite fiber generates a higher risk of cancer than other types of asbestos. Multiple asbestos studies conclude that exposure to amosite fiber can lead to asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Amosite can be found in thermal insulation, cement sheets, insulation boards, roofing products, and fire protection.
Anthophyllite fiber is recognized to cause asbestos-related illnesses. However, most research shows that exposure to anthophyllite fiber is less riskier than the exposure to other types of fibrous substance.
Tremolite was utilized in a variety of industrial and commercial products, because of its fire resistant capacity. Here are some popular products that contain tremolite fiber;
- Plumbing materials
- Roofing materials
Actinolite is considered as an effective insulation material. Here are some other uses for actinolite:
- Insulation material
- Concrete materials used in construction
- Structural fire-proofing
Commercial products containing asbestos:
1. Friable material
Friable material is the type of asbestos product that is quite loose and can be crumbled easily into dust when crushed by hand. This type of product contains a high level of fiber substance (for some cases it can be up to 100%).
If a friable material is disturbed, it can be dangerous for you. A friable material is more prone to go airborne and it can also contaminate the air easily. Friable material causes a greater risk to health if people who are living or working in the area inhale it.
Due to its condition, friable ACM must only be removed by an ‘A’ class licensed asbestos removalist, read more asbestos removal process.
Examples of friable asbestos-containing materials include:
- Sound proofing and insulation
- Some sprayed on fire retardants
- Sound proofing and insulation
- The lining on hot water systems or some old domestic heaters, pipe lagging, and stoves
- The backing of sheet vinyl and linoleum floor coverings
- Thermal lagging, such as pipe insulation.
2. Non-friable (also known as bonded material)
Non-friable material is generally composed of fiber substance that is firmly bonded to other hardening material, like cement. This kind of asbestos product contains up to 15% of fiber element.
Since they are bonded with other hardening material, non-friable material is not easily going airborne and also poses a lower risk to our health.
In Australia, 97% of asbestos products were categorized as non-friable material. Those products were mostly bonded with cement, resin, vinyl, or other similar material.
A ‘B’ class licensed asbestos removalist is capable of removing non-friable or bonded ACMs.
Examples of non-friable materials:
Asbestos vinyl flooring,
Plaster patching compounds,
Asbestos cement products that are covered with cement material (profiled, flat, and corrugated sheeting that employed in ceilings, roofs, walls, and molded objects such as downpipes).
Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) can be used for many purposes; they can be molded, cut, shaped, painted, or drilled easily. Products containing asbestos can only be detected through a microscopic analysis in a laboratory.
As a general rule, if you believe that you have ACMs on your property, you need to treat it as if it contains asbestos until confirmed through laboratory examination and asbestos testing processes.
Now, if you are going to remove an asbestos material from your property, you need to find the right removalist who is able to remove your asbestos material safely and in compliance with governmental regulation regarding this carcinogenic substance.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
ACM is dangerous once they are inhaled. Asbestos fibres can enter our body through human respiratory system.
For that reason, you must be aware and regularly monitor the asbestos-containing material in your property. If it’s disturbed or damaged, it can potentially releases tiny fibres into the air. Once it’s damaged, it can break down into tiny particles that are able to travel deep into someone’s lungs.
Asbestos is only a risk to health when asbestos fibres become airborne and are inhaled into the lungs. Most fibres are removed from your lungs by your body’s natural defences (e.g. coughing); however, some fibres can remain in the lungs. 
Australia is one of the countries with the highest incidence rates of mesothelioma in the world. This can mainly be attributed to the extensive use of all types of asbestos fibers in numerous settings in the past (Leigh & Driscoll 2002) 
Incidence of asbestos in Australia
In 2012, the incidence of mesothelioma in Australia was 2.4 per 100,000 people. 652 Australians died from mesothelioma 
New cases of mesothelioma by state and territory on 2012:
It is measured that for every death associated with mesothelioma two more people die from lung cancer affected by asbestos 
Over the next 40 year, based on existing data, it’s predicted as many as 25.000 Australians will die from mesothelioma 
Those numbers also indicated the disease toll was growing over time and will peak in deaths between 2014 and 2021. Recent data confirms there is now a third wave of asbestos-related disease affected by non-occupational exposure connected with home renovations 
Asbestos problems in Australia
1. Asbestos Roof
The use of asbestos roofing material is one of the biggest concerns regarding the use of hazardous substance in Australia. Our team did an extensive analysis, called the GRP project, on asbestos roof Australia wide.
Here are the results of our GRP research:
One of the reasons why having asbestos roof need your extra attention is due to the extreme weather patterns in Australia, particularly in the greater Brisbane and Sydney regions. These regions are the areas where they have a humid subtropical climate. Extreme weather patterns such as hailstones, thunderstorms, tornado, torrential rain, and destructive winds are constant happened over these regions.
Reports and links that show the extreme weather patterns in Brisbane, Sydney, and Perth regions may destroy your roof and property;
“Sydney tornado: Asbestos concerns emerge as clean-up continues in Kurnell after record storm”
“Sydney storm: Asbestos fears limit access to Kurnell following devastating tornado”
“Severe thunderstorm blows roof off home, cuts power to 10,000 properties around Brisbane”
“Wild storm: Roof ripped off Baldivis deli, power cut, road closed”
Extreme weather conditions can cause damages to your house and the surrounding environment. People reported that the tiling on their roofs has been swept away by the extreme weather conditions. This is a reminder of how a storm is able to cast the roof above your head and endanger your family and yourself. For that reason, you are susceptible to asbestos roof damage throughout severe storm or any other extreme weather conditions.
Further information on how to take care your asbestos material due to natural disasters and severe weather patterns;
2. Asbestos contamination and imported asbestos material
“Asbestos found in $1.2b Perth Children’s Hospital, says WA Health Minister”
3. Illegal dumping of asbestos material
Asbestos illegal dumping has been classified as a serious national issue by the Asbestos Management Review and by state and territory authorities. It’s because illegal dumping can lead to health and environmental risks, causing chemical and physical pollution in the neighborhoods and waterways, and damaging infrastructure and the natural environment.
Due to asbestos nature, you need to handle asbestos substances with care. Mishandling or an irresponsible handling may risk your life and also your surrounding environment.
Here is the information on how serious the illegal asbestos dumping in Australia is:
It shows that tones of asbestos material are illegally dumped across the state. This situation will expose our environment with the deadly fibers that may endanger and risk our life and our future generations. For that reason, it is vital to keep your surroundings free from asbestos contamination.
Statements about illegal dumping in Australia:
“It costs the community about $800,000 a year and is a blight on our city — illegal dumping is Brisbane’s latest eyesore”
“Get rid of it new squad to fight illegal dumping across Sydney”
“EPA investigates illegal dumping operation along banks of Hawkesbury River on Central Coast”
“Illegal dumping of building waste in Perth rockets as landfill levy rises”
“Asbestos rubble from illegally demolished pub found in Melbourne’s north-west”
“Parks become illegal dumping grounds for hazardous asbestos”
“Illegal dumping targeted in clearer environment laws, SA Minister Ian Hunter says”
Where can you find asbestos in your home?
The use of asbestos fibers starts from residential, commercial to government properties. Many properties and houses built before 1990 in Australia contain this dangerous material.
And up till the 1960s, 25% of all new housing was clad in asbestos cement in Australia. – (Leigh J. etal. 2002, Malignant Mesothelioma in Australia, 1945-2000)
That’s why you must check the presence of material containing asbestos on your property.
Products containing asbestos:
- Asbestos sheets
- Fireproofing & prevention materials
- Vinyl products
- Electrical cloth & Electrical panel partition
- Asbestos gaskets
- Tiles: Ceiling, flooring, and roofing tiles.
- Adhesives and gold bond adhesives
- Floor backing and drywall taping compounds
- Ductwork connectors and flexible duct connectors
1. Asbestos ban in Australia
The use, manufacture, and import of asbestos material is outlawed or banned in Australia now. All kinds and forms of asbestos material were no longer authorized to be used, sold, reused, imported, manufactured, supplied, transported, or stored in Australia (Safe Work Australia 2010).
Therefore, it is important to examine and discover if your property has asbestos or not. Before performing any works, check the local council website in your area. It’s because the Australian law regulates every work or activity involving asbestos material. For that reason, you will need to understand about this hazardous substance.
Further information on managing importation of asbestos in Australia;
2. Illegal dumping
One of asbestos activities that you need to be aware of is illegal asbestos dumping. Asbestos illegal dumping is defined as an unauthorized discharging or abandonment of large amounts of asbestos waste. This situation is an offense under Section 49A of the EP Act. Illegal dumping is a serious offense and you can get convicted of paying a fine of $62,500 (for individuals) and $125,000 (for corporations).
What should I do if I find asbestos on my property?
If you discover an asbestos material in your property, then do not disturb the substance! As has been said, asbestos is a risk if it’s damaged or disturbed. A disturbed asbestos-containing material is able to produce dust, which has the tiny fibrous content.
Therefore, if the asbestos-containing material on your property or building is in good form and condition, you need to leave the material undisturbed. It’s the safest way to take care of this substance.
However, you still need to visually inspect the material for any deterioration and damages. You need to do it regularly.
Here are several points you need to consider before removing an asbestos material;
- How is the condition of the asbestos material? What are the legal requirements to remove it?
- Is it safe to remove the material by yourself?
- Do you have all the equipment, knowledge, skills, and experience to get rid of the material by yourself?
- Do you need to hire a professional, licensed, and experienced asbestos removalist?
- What is the regulation about removing the fibrous substance in your area?
Further information on how to remove asbestos safely;
Transfer stations and Authorized Landfill for asbestos waste
The disposal of asbestos material is a crucial matter. This procedure is heavily regulated by the city council, which is different in every area in Australia. Therefore, if you are unsure of the waste location or asbestos landfill in your area, contact your nearest council;
New South Wales,
Who do I contact for further information about asbestos?
|Organization||Local government||Worksafe: Asbestos issues in a workplace or relates to work||EPA: Issue relates to contamination environment & asbestos disposal||Health: Public Health Issue||Emergency|
|QLD||http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/asbestos/||WorkCover QLD: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/||http://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/||https://www.health.qld.gov.au/||http://www.ses.qld.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx|
|NSW||http://www.lgnsw.org.au/about-us/council-links||SafeWork NSW: http://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/||http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/||http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx||http://www.emergency.nsw.gov.au/|
|SA||http://www.asbestos.sa.gov.au/||SafeWork SA: https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/||http://www.epa.sa.gov.au/||http://www.health.sa.gov.au/||http://www.ses.sa.gov.au/site/home.jsp|
|WA||https://www.dlgc.wa.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx||WorkSafe WA: http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/||http://www.epa.wa.gov.au/||http://www.health.wa.gov.au/||http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/aboutus/operationalinformation/Pages/stateemergencyservice.aspx|
|Victoria||http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/||WorkSafe Vic: http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/||http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/||https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/||https://www.ses.vic.gov.au/|
|ACT||http://www.asbestostaskforce.act.gov.au/||Worksafe ACT: http://www.worksafety.act.gov.au/health_safety||http://www.environment.act.gov.au/||http://health.act.gov.au/||http://esa.act.gov.au/|
|Tasmania||http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/divisions/local_government||WorkSafe Tas: http://www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/safety/safety_subjects/subject/asbestos||http://epa.tas.gov.au/||http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/||http://www.ses.tas.gov.au/|
|NT||https://dhcd.nt.gov.au/homepage||WorkSafe NT: http://www.worksafe.nt.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx||https://ntepa.nt.gov.au/||https://health.nt.gov.au/||http://www.pfes.nt.gov.au/Emergency-Service.aspx|
 Leigh J & Driscoll T 2002. Malignant mesothelioma in Australia, 1945–2002 International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 9(3), 206–217
 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality: Mesothelioma for Australia (ICD10 C45)
 Australian Mesothelioma Registry. (2014). 3rd Annual Report – Mesothelioma in Australia 2013. Retrieved from www.mesothelioma-australia.com/publications-and-data/publications
 Leigh, J, Davidson, P, Hendrie, L, Berry, D (2002), ‘Malignant mesothelioma in Australia, 1945-2000’. American Journal of Industrial Medicine Volume 41, Issue 3: pp. 188-201.
 Peto, Julian. (2008). The Killer Within. The University of Melbourne Voice, vol. 3, no. 2.
 Olsen, Nola J Franklin, P, Reid, A, de Klerk, N, Threlfal, T, Shilkin, K, Musk, B (2012), ‘Increasing incidence of malignant mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos during home maintenance and renovation’, The Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 195, no. 5.