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Is There Asbestos in Australia? You Bet!

Are you planning to set up an office or move to an old building or warehouse? Make changing your AC-ducting supplies a priority. It’s possible the one you have still uses a dangerous material called asbestos.

The Dangers of Asbestos

What is asbestos? It refers to fibrous minerals that naturally occur in rock formations. It is available in three colors: blue, brown, and white. The most popular is white. Asbestos can come from different parts of the world. Australia, however, was a producer.

Most of the materials would come from Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, and New South Wales. These products represented 5% of the total supply, which meant most projects used imported asbestos.

It became a well-known building product for a variety of reasons. One, it provided insulation without the additional weight. It was easy to work on. It was also fireproof and durable.

The problem is asbestos is also friable. When you hold it in your hand (and you shouldn’t, by the way), it can crumble. The fibers can become loose. Some asbestos products are bonded, which means they are tightly packed. These ones are less likely to become friable—unless they experience heavy damage as materials often do in the long-term.

These fibers are so small they can penetrate the body, particularly the lungs, whether someone accidentally or deliberately inhaled them. The body doesn’t have a mechanism to expel these fibers. Worse, it triggers chronic inflammation and scarring, permanently damaging the organ.

Most of the cases of mesothelioma, or cancer affecting the lining of the lungs called mesothelium, are due to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer with a poor survival rate. According to the Mesothelioma Center, no more than 12% of the patients live for five years.

One of the reasons is the slow development of cancer. It can take as long as 10 years before symptoms can appear. Unfortunately, by that time, the disease might already be in its terminal stage.

man removing asbestos

Why This Should Bother You

Like other countries, Australia eventually banned using asbestos in building construction. However, it happened only in 2003. The country even continued to manufacture it until the mid-1980s.

For this reason, the government strongly advises homeowners and commercial tenants to know when the property came about. If it has been around before the mid-1980s to 1990s, it’s possible you’ll find asbestos-containing products.

Even when the country doesn’t mine and produce asbestos anymore, its adverse effects continue to this day. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), at least 700 Australians developed mesothelioma in 2017. That’s two diagnosed cases each day.

It can impact both men and women, but the circumstances of exposure can vary. Males, for instance, are likely to inhale asbestos due to their line of work. Women, meanwhile, might expose themselves to the product at home.

Asbestos is a dangerous material to deal with, especially if you have no background in its removal. Work with a professional contractor when renovating your space. Consider hiring an asbestos removal expert as well. Most of all, change your ducts. All these seem to be a lot of work, but it’s still better to be safe than sorry.

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