Different Types Of Asbestos
Asbestos is an issue – a health and safety issue. When disturbed, this seemingly innocent-looking fibrous mineral always leaves a trail of severe sicknesses and, at times, even death. It was once a celebrated material and was used in over 3,000 products until medical studies proved that exposure to it can make people gravely ill. In 1991, asbestos was officially banned in Australia due to the numerous risks it presents.
There are six different types of asbestos which, according to historical accounts, were imported to Australia from 1930 to 1983. These types belong to two mineral groups: the Serpentine Group and the Amphibole Group.
Under Serpentine, there is only one type: chrysotile or white asbestos. This type of asbestos was commercially used in Australia, Canada, Russia, South Africa, the United States and Zimbabwe. Products that featured chrysotile include insulation, friction materials such as brake pads for automobiles, and fibre-reinforced concrete.
Meanwhile, under the Amphibole Group, there are:
- Amosite (brown asbestos or grey asbestos)
- Crocidolite (blue asbestos)
These six different types of asbestos were used widely in Australia for various building materials (the country actually used all types of asbestos before it was banned and reports reveal that while Australia may have stopped mining chrysotile and crocodilite, it imported asbestos until 2004); thus, it can be found in a lot of old homes and commercial buildings in the country. They can be found in everything: roof sheeting, flooring, cladding, window putty, concrete framework, and many other structural components.
Between the two groups of asbestos, the Amphibole Group’s types pose greater health risks. They are more carcinogenic as the fibres do not dissolve in the lungs for a lifetime. Inhaling the fibres of these types of asbestos can lead to Mesothelioma, Asbestosis and Pleural Disease, lung cancer, and pleural plaques.
Therefore, if asbestos assessment identifies any of those present in a building (particularly those that are friable – the type likely to become airborne) as types belonging to the Amphibole Group, then it is of utmost importance to have them removed by licensed removalists. Asbestos removal is a greatly stringent and systematic process; there are standards (proper work attire for workers, protocols for removal, handling, transport and disposal) established by authorities (EPA, WHS, and local councils) for the task to be executed in the safest manner. Permits also need to be secured prior to the date of removal to effectively safeguard the worksite and to protect the surrounding environment from contamination.
If you suspect that your home has Asbestos, don’t risk it, get it tested!
Jim’s Asbestos Removal and Jim’s Hazardous Materials Removal Division has the ability to work with you and licensed Asbestos Assessors (Jim’s Building Inspectors) to provide the required inspection, a management plan, advise on and carry out either safe encapsulation works or removal works.