Check For Asbestos Before You Renovate Your Home
Considering renovating? First take precautions for the safe of your health and your neighbours and Check For Asbestos Before You Renovate Your Home.
This article will teach you about the two types of Asbestos and where they are commonly found in the house and in the garden and what to do if you do come across Asbestos.
DIY Home Renovators At Risk Of Asbestos Exposure
Many people are do-it-themselves home renovators and almost just as many of these people are unaware about how to identify Asbestos in their homes and gardens. This results in potentially very dangerous, renovations which can put not only the renovator at risk, but their families and the entire neighborhood too!
From The 1940’s Into The 1980’s Asbestos Was Used Heavily
If your house was built anytime between the 1940’s and 1980’s there is a very good chance that it could contain Asbestos, as this was the boom period for Asbestos usage, due to the fact that it was cheap, strong, fire retardant and multi-functional.
Unless you have trained in Asbestos identification and no how to officially test a building material, then there is no way to know for sure whether something contains Asbestos.
It is vital to understand that no builder can look at that cement plaster board sheeting wall in your house, or the eaves in your home and know for sure whether they are Asbestos free.
In some cases though, you can clearly see that something does contain Asbestos ; e.g. there is no mistaking Asbestos corrugated fences and roofing, as you can clearly see it is not made out of corrugated steel.
Places You May Find Asbestos In Your Home:
Asbestos was and in some countries still is, used in many different types of materials that we use to build, insulate and renovate our homes and gardens with. Many people think that Asbestos was only used for insulation, or in the eaves of housing.
The truth is Asbestos has literally, thousands of uses.
Before the health hazards that are now associated with this material became known, it was considered builders gold. It was super tough and both sound & fire resistant.
Asbestos was used for manufacturing all sorts of things, from stove top food warming plates, car brake pads, fencing, roofing and even for artificial ashes and embers used in gas fireplaces.
- Plasterboard walls, cement fibro-sheeting, ceilings, inside cupboards, the eaves of your house
- The backing on some carpets and rugs read more
- Used as insulation inside your air-conditioning or heating units. Inside your Ducting
- Roofing tars and garden fencing e.g Corrugated asbestos roofing and fencing, which looks almost the same, unless you look close up, as corrugated iron roofing,
- felts, siding, and shingles; Interior fire doors;
- Popcorn ceilings, also known as acoustic ceilings; “Transite” panels, siding, counter tops,
- Pipes; Thermal pipe insulation; HVAC flexible duct connectors;
- Vinyl floor tiles, sheeting, adhesives;
- Mud and texture coats; in paints and sealants;
- Fake Brick veneers on houses made from Asbestos Bricks
- Asbestos cement Cowl’s on rooftops
- Garden Sheds; Fences; Planting and Weed Barriers; Dog Kennels; Mail Boxes… you get the picture pretty much anything was made using Asbestos.
- There was even a huge uproar in the USA in 2000 with Kids Crayons containing Asbestos – see report here.
- In the fuse box, Asbestos electrical backing boards were popular due to their fire resistant qualities.
What Exactly Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of of 6 Silicate Minerals that are naturally found in the earth. These Silicate Minerals contain crystal type fibers and it is these fibers that can cause us harm.
Did you know that Asbestos has been mined for over 4000 years, but it wasn’t till the end of the 19th century that the industry boomed. By mid 1970’s it was extremely popular and used in just about everything and anything e.g brake pads, stove top pads, through to paint and sealants.
The Health Hazards Of Asbestos.
There are some serious, major health hazards associated with inhaling Asbestos Fibers that affect the lungs and these are, Lung Cancer, Asbestosis , Mesothelioma, and Pleural Plaques & Pleural Thickening. All are extremely serious and often deadly.
For more information on where you can find Asbestos in the home visit the United States EPA sheet on Asbestos in your Home and in Australia Asbestos in Australia here is the ACT Government Site and the QLD Government Site, who advise home renovators to get their properties checked for Asbestos if their homes were built before 1990.
What To Do If You Suspect Your House Has Asbestos
Before you go ahead and renovate your house, or garden in anyway, it is vital to remember that you can not identify if something contains Asbestos by sight;e.g. you can’t look at a piece of cement fibro-sheeting, or insulation material and know if is contains Asbestos. The only way to know if something contains Asbestos is to have it officially tested.
The first thing you need to do is find out when your house was built and this will give you an indication as to whether your house is at risk of Asbestos e.g if your house was built after 1990 the changes of Asbestos is a lot lower and if built after 2000 in Australia at least, almost impossible, unless you were unfortunate enough that they built your house with dodgy, old recycled materials, or stock.
Hiring an Asbestos Removalist and Tester
The next thing to do would be to do would be to contact a licensed Asbestos Removalist to come out and take samples of any materials in your house or garden that could be suspicious. Important – Always make sure that any Asbestos samples are tested by an accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities Australia (NATA) Laboratory and are that the removalist you choose are registered and accredited Asbestos Removalist. You want certificates and you want an official NATA report of the findings.
Home Asbestos Kit Testing
If you choose to take in a sample yourself, first contact a NATA accredited Laboratory and ask them how to safely take a sample. There are some special Asbestos Testing Kits you can buy to take a sample, but still contact one of the Asbestos Testing Laboratories to find out how to use them safely. Please if the material looks to be of the Friable Asbestos kind, do not take chances and get a licensed removalist in to take a sample.
What To Do If You Come Across Asbestos In Your Home Or Neighbourhood
- If you come across any broken structures containing Asbestos e.g fencing, roofing etc on your own property, these are hazardous and should be professionally removed as soon as possible. Be vigilant in keeping your family and pets always from loose or broken Asbestos and put up a sign nearby to warn others to steer clear.
- If you come across Asbestos structures in your neighbourhood, this includes schools, halls etc. that look as though they are crumbling, or breaking down, you should immediately alert the authorities e.g your local council or police.
- If you are at all concerned about anyone in the neighbourhood doing renovations, or building on their property, immediately report to the police, or council and let them handle it.
- If your neighbour is removing Asbestos even legally, it is advisable to stay indoors and make sure you close your windows and doors and also do not hang out washing on the line.
A bit more information about Asbestos
There are two main types of Asbestos and one is far more hazardous than the other. First you have Non-Friable Asbestos, which basically means the Asbestos fibers are sealed within another material e.g fibro cement sheeting. Then your have Friable Asbestos and this is the really dangerous one, as the Asbestos fibers are only loosely bound together and can easily become airborne and thus inhaled.
There Are Six Different Types Of Asbestos
There are two main types of Asbestos and one is far more hazardous than the other. Non-Friable Asbestos, which basically means the Asbestos fibers are sealed within another material e.g fibro cement sheeting. Then your have Friable Asbestos and this is the really dangerous one, as the Asbestos fibers are only loosely bound together and can easily become airborne and thus inhaled.
- The most common type of Asbestos found in houses, is Chrysotile Asbestos, known as White Asbestos which can be used in the various types of materials e.g Drywall and joint compound plaster; e.g Fibro Cement Plaster Walls and Sheeting.
- Crocidolite Asbestos, known as Blue Asbestos , which is considered the most dangerous and deadly Asbestos known and unfortunately was widely used e.g Ceiling Tiles, for insulating all sorts of things, around pipes and wires, it even was made into a spray-on insulator and one brand of cigarettes even used it at one stage in their filters!! Click here for a list of where you can commonly find Crocidolite Asbestos.
- Amosite Asbestos- or Brown Asbestos, also commonly used for ceiling tiles and thermal insulation.
- Tremolite Asbestos– this is the one they used to find in Talcum Powder products, plus it was commonly used in paint , sealants, insulation, roofing and plumbing materials and like Blue Asbestos it is extremely dangerous.
- Actinolite Asbestos– also used for the above purposes, but also frighteningly found in the paints of some children’s toys.
- Anthophyllite Asbestos– this is the least commercially used of the Asbestos group, but is still just as hazardous. Traces have also been found in Talcum Powder products.
Our personal story with finding hidden Asbestos in our home
– When we bought our house a few years ago we found a few random pieces of what looked like, Fibro Cement pieces in the front and back gardens. I popped on disposable gloves and hosed them gently down with water and then double zip-locked bagged them and took them into an Asbestos Testing Lab to be analyzed.
It turned out they were pieces sheeting containing White Asbestos and we were able to track down the source of the problem, which was a panel of Fibro Cement Sheeting, that ran down the length of the side fence to fill in a gap between the fence and the earth and it had broken-down over the years.
We of course called in a Licensed Asbestos Removalist and since then if we ever find a small piece, we carefully remove it the same way we took the sample and this is fine. We don’t mow the front garden either, but use a whipper-snipper instead.
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