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Asbestos Resources: 11 Important Things of Asbestos
Do you need information about asbestos?
Presented here are a broad range of resources, links, and information for the safe and secure handling of asbestos-containing material in Sydney region.
Table of contents:
- What is asbestos?
- Types of asbestos
- Why is asbestos dangerous?
- Asbestos cases in Australia
- Asbestos problems in the Greater Sydney Region
- Products containing asbestos
- Where you can find asbestos in your property?
- Asbestos regulations in Sydney
- What should I do if I discover asbestos in my property?
- Transfer stations and Authorized Landfill for asbestos waste
- Who do I contact for further information about asbestos?
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the common term for a number of fibrous silicate minerals, which naturally occurred in the environment. This material was valued for its beneficial physical properties, practicality, and versatility.
Here are some desirable properties of asbestos that made it used extensively in the construction industry:
- Heat resistance,
- Insulating properties,
- Ability under tension,
- Tensile strength,
- Water and chemical resistance,
- Electrical resistance.
Due to these desirable properties, this fibrous mineral was widely utilized in many construction and commercial products. It’s identified that asbestos has more than 3000 applications worldwide; from floor tiles, cement compounds, roofing shingles, textile products, to automotive parts. As a result of their extensive use, many residential buildings and commercial properties in Australia contain this hazardous material
Types of asbestos
There are different types of asbestos that were extensively applied in a large number of products.
Commercial products that may contain asbestos:
Friable is the type of fibrous material that is able to break or crumble easily. This is considered as a dangerous type of ACM, and it contains high percentages of fibrous substance. Once it’s disturbed or broken, it can generate tiny fibre into the air and contaminates the surrounding environment, which poses a greater risk to our health.
Examples of friable asbestos-containing materials include:
- Sound proofing and insulation
- The lining on hot water systems or some old domestic heaters, pipe lagging, and stoves
- Thermal lagging, such as pipe insulation.
This friable type must only be handled by an ‘A’ class licensed asbestos removalist.
Non-friable (bonded) is the type of fibrous substance that is firmly bonded to another hardening material, like cement. These types of material can holds up to 15% of fiber content. Bonded or non-friable is the kind of ACM that does not easily go airborne and pose a lower risk to our health.
Examples of bonded or non-friable materials:
- Asbestos vinyl flooring
- Textured paint
- Asbestos cement products or fiber substance that covered with cement material (profiled, flat, and corrugated sheeting that employed in ceilings, roofs, walls, and molded objects such as downpipes).
A ‘B’ class licensed asbestos removalist is needed to manage bonded ACMs.
Thus, before removing and eliminating any asbestos material, you need to know which asbestos removalist you want to hire.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos fibers can enter human’s body through inhalation. Basically, asbestos is not dangerous unless it is releasing tiny fibers into the air where they can be breathed in.
That’s why you need to be aware and monitor asbestos products in your property regularly. You need to check whether it’s in good condition or not. If it’s damaged or disturbed, it’s likely to release fibres to the surrounding environment. Once inhaled, it’s able to travel deep into your body. Even, most fibres are expelled from your lungs by your body’s natural defenses (e.g. coughing), some fibers can reside in the lungs. 
Australia has the biggest mesothelioma death case in the world . Australian Mesothelioma Registry records that 641 Australians died from mesothelioma in 2014. Based on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, mesothelioma cases are predicted to reach 18.000 cases in the country. These cases are related to the broad use of all kinds of asbestos materials in numerous settings in the past .
Asbestos cases in Australia
According to the Australian Mesothelioma Registry, in 2012, the rate of mesothelioma in Australia was 2.4 per 100,000 . For every 100,000 people, you would expect to see 2.4 cases of mesothelioma in that year 
New South Wales is one of the areas that has biggest mesothelioma incident. It’s because NSW is the first state to mine asbestos. The incidence of asbestos-related diseases in this area approximately has doubled in the past 20 years, particularly between 1987 and 2006.
Treatment Centers for Mesothelioma in Sydney region
Due to the increasing number of mesothelioma diagnoses, the government put more effort on offering quality treatment for the sufferers. One of the Australian hospitals that offer treatment for mesothelioma cancer in Sydney is Bernie Banton Centre at Concord Hospital. This is the world’s first stand-alone research facility devoted to the prevention and treatment of asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos Problems in The Greater Sydney Region
1. Asbestos roof in Sydney region
One of the asbestos problems in Sydney area is the application of asbestos roofing materials. According to our GRP research in Sydney itself, there are 4217 residential buildings and 497 commercial properties using asbestos roofs.
One of the main reasons why you need to be concern about asbestos roofs is due to the extreme and severe weather patterns in the greater Sydney region. Thunderstorms, tornado, hailstones, torrential rain and destructive winds are quite often happen here.
2. Illegal dumping and mishandled of asbestos material
Sydney is one of the regions that also experience illegal dumping problems. Around 11.000 tonnes of asbestos are dumped illegally in this region.
Illegal dumping of toxic material, particularly asbestos is dangerous. This act may endanger our health and the surrounding environment. Illegal dumping may damages infrastructure and the natural environment and also causes physical and chemical pollution in the neighborhoods and waterways.
Mishandling asbestos material can jeopardize your lives and your surrounding environment. For that reason, asbestos must be handled with complete care.
“Get rid of it new squad to fight illegal dumping across Sydney” – www.theleader.com.au
Products containing asbestos
Asbestos-cement products & sheet materials
Cement pipes, cement wallboard, cement siding, tiles; asphalt floor tile, vinyl floor, vinyl sheet flooring, flooring backing, vinyl wall coverings, ceiling tiles, roofing; roofing shingles, roofing felt, roll roofing; roof patching cement, base flashing, wallboard
Pipe insulation, corrugated air-cell, block insulation, spray-applied insulation, breaching insulation, blown-in insulation, thermal paper products, electrical wiring insulation, boiler insulation.
Construction Mastics (floor tile, carpet, ceiling tile, etc.)
Acoustical texture products / Fireproofing
Acoustical plaster, decorative plaster, fire blankets, textured paint or coatings, fire doors, fire curtains.
High-Temperature Gaskets, high-pressure packing, packing for industrial products, packing materials (for wall/floor penetrations).
Textile and Cloth Products
Protective cloth coverings, threads, asbestos gloves, yarns, cords, braids.
These following products may contain asbestos:
- Durock (up to 1974)
- Fibrolite (1972–1982)
- Hardiflex or Hardiplank (1982)
- Highline profiled sheets or Coverline (1972–1982)
- new Hardiflex (1982–present)
- decorative coatings
Where you can find asbestos in your property?
A wide application of asbestos fibers starts from residential, commercial buildings to government properties. Based on Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, a third of all houses in Australia contain asbestos materials. Many buildings and properties built before 1990 in Australia contain this harmful material.
Until 1954, 70.000 houses were built using asbestos cement in the state of New South Wales (Leigh J. et al. 2002, Malignant Mesothelioma in Australia, 1945-2000)
Therefore, if you live in New South Wales, particularly around Sydney, you must check the presence of this dangerous material in your property.
Here are the most common areas that may contain asbestos material:
Asbestos regulations in Sydney
1. Disposing of your household asbestos
If you are going to dispose of your household asbestos waste, there are few things that you need to understand. SafeWork NSW encourages that householders hire a licensed asbestos removal contractor to help you dispose of the material safely. It’s for minimizing the risk and danger of asbestos exposure to yourself, your family, and your surrounding environment.
2. Asbestos Waste
The regulation surrounding asbestos waste varies between different cities, different premises. If you handle asbestos waste at worksites, you may check on SafeWork NSW. But, if you handle the storage, disposal, and transport of asbestos waste at non-worksites you may contact the NSW EPA (Environment Protection Authority) or your local council.
Further information on disposing of your household asbestos:
What should I do if I discover asbestos in my property?
If you discover asbestos-containing material on your house or property, then Do Not Disturb it!
As has been said, asbestos is a danger if it’s damaged or broken. But, if the ACMs in your house or property are in good form and condition, you need to leave them undisturbed.
That’s the safest way to manage the asbestos material.
Read about asbestos management plan here.
However, you still need to inspect them visually for any damage and deterioration. You should do it regularly.
Here are few circumstances why you need to examine before getting rid of your asbestos material;
- Is it safe to handle the material yourself?
- Can you meet the entire requirement to conduct a safe asbestos removal process?
- Do you have all the knowledge, experience, and facilities to handle the material yourself?
- Will you need professional assistance?
- What is the law about getting rid of the asbestos material in your area?
Further information on how to remove asbestos safely according to SafeWork NSW; “www.safework.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/50082/safely-remove-asbestos-code-of-practice-0916.pdf”
Transfer stations and Authorized Landfill for asbestos waste
The disposal of asbestos-containing material is a critical matter and this procedure controlled by the city council laws, which is different in every state in Australia. That’s why, if you are uncertain about the asbestos landfill in your area, contact your nearest council;
New South Wales:
Who do I contact for further information about asbestos?
SafeWork NSW: Asbestos issues in a workplace or relates to work
EPA: Issue relates to contamination environment & asbestos disposal
Public Health Issue;
 Leigh J & Driscoll T 2002. Malignant mesothelioma in Australia, 1945–2002 International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 9(3), 206–217
 Australian Mesothelioma Registry 2013. 2nd Annual Report Mesothelioma in Australia 2012. New South Wales: Cancer Institute NSW