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Resources: Understand asbestos better to keep you safe

Do you need comprehensive and thorough information regarding asbestos materials in Melbourne? Provided here are a broad range of resources, links, and information for the safe and secure handling of asbestos-containing material in the greater Melbourne region.

Table of contents:

  1. What is asbestos?
  2. Types of asbestos
  3. Why is asbestos dangerous?
  4. Asbestos cases in South Australia
  5. Asbestos problems in the Greater Adelaide Region
  6. Suspected materials containing asbestos 
  7. Where you may discover asbestos substance in your house or property?
  8. Asbestos regulations in Melbourne, Victoria 
  9. What should I do if I discover asbestos material on my property?
  10. Transfer stations and Authorized Asbestos Landfill in Melbourne  
  11. Who do I contact for further information concerning asbestos in Melbourne?

 

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is the name given for silicate mineral fibres that are naturally occurring in the environment. Asbestos is a material that has many desired purposes and functions. It’s a durable material that is also able to withstand heat and has many other different properties, such as chemical resistance, insulating properties, and its fire and water resistant qualities. This material is employed commonly in building construction material and also in other 3.000 different commercial products.

You may notice the application of this fibre material range from roofing shingles, floor tiles, ceiling materials, cement compounds, textile products, to automotive parts. As has been stated before, asbestos consists of many useful abilities, for that reason this material then extensively produced and mined in Australia.

As a result of large employment and application of this fibers substance in Australia, many residential and commercial buildings contain this dangerous material.

 

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Types of asbestos

Types of asbestos materials;

  1. Chrysotile,
  2. Amosite,
  3. Tremolite,
  4. Crocidolite,
  5. Actinolite
  6. Anthophyllite,

 


In addition to asbestos types, there are two kinds of commercial asbestos products.

They are:

1. Friable: Friable is the variety of commercial asbestos product that is recognized to break or crumble easily. This kind of product holds high levels of fiber element and is identified as the dangerous variety of asbestos product. It’s because once this product is damaged or broken, it will release the tiny fibre and contaminate your house and also your surrounding environment. This situation poses a greater risk to our well-being.

Examples of friable products;

  1. Roofing felts,
  2. Insulation board on walls,
  3. Pipe coverings,
  4. Mastic adhesives for vinyl floors, ceiling tiles, carpets.
  5. acoustical and decorative plasters for walls and ceilings

To eliminate friable asbestos material, you require to only contact an ‘A’ class licensed asbestos removal contractor.

2. Non-friable (bonded): Bonded or non-friable is the type of asbestos product that is firmly coated and bonded to hardening material such as cement. This kind of asbestos consists around 15% of fibre substance and pose a lower risk to our well-being. Due to its characteristics, bonded material does not go airborne easily.

Here are some bonded asbestos products that you may find contain bonded asbestos:

  1. Water drainage and flue pipes,
  2. Cement pipes,
  3. Vinyl Wall Coverings,
  4. Flat (fibro),
  5. Vinyl flooring,
  6. Corrugated or compressed asbestos-cement (A-C) sheeting,
  7. Textured paint, and
  8. Floor tiles.

 
A ‘B’ class licensed is required to assist you in handling your bonded asbestos products.


 

First and foremost, friable and non-friable (bonded) fibre products pose a significant health danger.  These following conditions are potential hazards that you may not be aware of:

  1. Weathering of asbestos products,
  2. A damaged ACM that you do not realize,
  3. Excessive levels of fibre substance in the surrounding area,
  4. Removal process of ACMs,
  5. Demolition work of fibrous materials,
  6. Maintenance activity involving asbestos substance.

In compliance with Victoria laws, there are a few things that you must consider before removing the deadly material out of your property.

1. If you have suspected asbestos products on your workplaces, here’s the guidance that may help you with the right and safe removal process in workplaces;

Link;https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/9234/cc_asbestos_remove.pdf

2. Now, if you are going to get rid of the ACM products from your house, the most important thing is to determine the right asbestos service provider to help you.

Further information on Victoria laws regarding regulations of asbestos contractor;

http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/pages/forms-and-publications/forms-and-publications/management-and-disposal-of-asbestos

 

Why is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos material becomes hazardous when it releases its tiny fibrous substance through the air, which can be inhaled or ingested. Inhalation and ingestion of fibers are the most common ways of the fibers to get into someone’s body, particularly someone’s lung. The presence of these tiny fibrous substances within someone’s body can lead to many health problems, particularly asbestos-related diseases.

If you live on a property or work in a building that contains asbestos products, you MUST be aware of your surrounding situation. You may inhale this material without realizing it. Be aware of these possibilities of inhaling fibre substance;

  • In houses or buildings contain asbestos that is disturbed due to the renovation or demolition works,
  • Throughout the removal process or any works associated with fibre substance,
  • In the same zone with others who work with the fiber substance.

If someone inhales or ingests the fibre substance, someone’s body is only capable of discharging the tiny fibres by nature defenses system. But, some of the materials may still reach deep to someone’s lungs.

In consequence of that circumstance, you MUST be aware of the asbestos products within your property or workplace. You have to control and monitor the situation of your asbestos products frequently. You need to ensure the condition of your ACM, whether it is in good shape or not. If it’s broken, damaged or deteriorated, then you must take further action towards the asbestos products.  It’s because a crack or a hole on the products (due to deteriorated, damaged or broken ACM) are likely to release the dangerous tiny fibers to the environment, which may endanger your health.

Broken or damaged asbestos products are a real problem to the health of your family and yourself. As has been stated before, the danger of asbestos fiber is capable of causing asbestos-related illnesses, such as pleural plaques, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and cancer, particularly lung cancer.

 

Asbestos cases in Victoria region

The use of asbestos is banned on Victoria in 2003, but many people are still suffering due to the impact of asbestos exposure 1

One of the reasons is the vast use of asbestos materials. Due to extensive utilization of asbestos and mining over many years in the past, Australia became a country with one the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world. 600 people were diagnosed with this malignant disease in 2007. In Victoria itself, there were nearly 131 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in 2011 2

The total cases of new mesothelioma in Australia are 11.667 cases range from 1982 to 2009 3. In 2012, the rate mesothelioma sufferers reached 2.4 per 10.000 or we can say that there were 2.4 cases for every 100.000 people in Australia 4.

It is estimated that for every death correlated with mesothelioma, two more people die from lung cancer due to this asbestos material 5. Current data validates that there is a third wave of asbestos-related illnesses affected by non-occupational exposures particularly related to home renovations 6.

 

Asbestos problems in the Greater Melbourne Region

a. Asbestos Roof

Roofing material that is coated with asbestos substance is one of the worrisome matters in Australia. In Melbourne region, there are 1.732 residential properties and 49 commercial buildings that still employ this harmful material based on the GRP research. You may come across this result on our GRP research here. (link to asbestos watch resources page head office).

One of the main reasons why having your asbestos roof removed is due to the extreme weather patterns in Melbourne. Melbourne is one of the cities that have experienced a number of highly unusual weather events and extremes of weather. An increase in heat waves and record breaking temperatures over the last decade has led to much discussion over the effects of climate change in the country 7 & 8.

Severe thunderstorms, large hailstones, flash flooding, and reports of tornadoes cause major damage to houses in Melbourne and are quite constant occurred over this region 9.

Reports and links that show the extreme weather conditions in Melbourne are able to damage your roof and property;

Unfortunately, Asbestos roofs gradually disintegrate after years of being exposed to extreme weather conditions such as those experienced in Melbourne

More than 1100 Victorians have needed help after wild weather ripped roofs off houses, tore trees from the ground and created commuter chaos across the state.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/roofs-ripped-off-vic-houses-as-storms-hit/news-story/23c17f773626c504c3477c0b64afeb6e

Leaking roofs, flooded garages, and a storm-damaged cinema have kept emergency crews busy as wild weather batters the state.

A State Emergency Service spokeswoman said more than 200 calls were received on Sunday evening. More than 100 of those calls were for flooding, and 75 for building damage.

“We haven’t had any reports of over-floor flooding at this stage,” she said. “Most are for dripping roofs; some are concerns about their roofs collapsing or for flooded garages.”

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/melbourne-weather-downpours-and-storms-loom-as-rain-brings-bushfire-relief-20170205-gu5sfi.html

Further information on how to identify and deal with asbestos roofs on your property; http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/about-asbestos/finding-and-identifying/finding-and-identifying-asbestos-tool/find-and-identify-asbestos-in-the-home/roof

 

b. Illegal dumping of asbestos

Illegal dumping of asbestos is one of the problems in Australia wide. Melbourne is one of the regions that contaminated with this illegal dumping of asbestos.

Here are the reports and links that show illegal dumping in Victoria region, particularly Melbourne area;

  • Totally inadequate’ $20,000 asbestos dumping fine small beer for big developers, http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/fury-over-totally-inadequate-asbestos-dumping-penalty-for-carlton-pub-wreckers-20161106-gsj10s.html
  • Vic bushland littered with waste, asbestos. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/asbestos-found-dumped-in-vic-bushland/news-story/60d8155beb00cfa42492de853ab222d0

You may help the government diminish the illegal dumping in your area by reporting the activity here; http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/get-involved/illegal-dumping

Further information on removing and disposing asbestos material on your property; http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/about-asbestos/removing-or-disposing

 

Suspected materials that are coated or containing asbestos:

  1. Asbestos-cement products; cement pipes, cement wallboard, cement siding,
  2. The types of floor tiles; vinyl floor tile, asphalt floor tile, flooring backing, vinyl sheet flooring.
  3. The type of Roofing materials ; roofing shingles, roofing felt, roof patching cement, roll roofing.
  4. Fireproofing materials; decorative plaster, acoustical plaster, fire blankets, textured paints / coatings, fire doors, fire curtains.
  5. High-temperature gaskets
  6. Insulation materials; Spray-applied insulation, block insulation, boiler insulation, blown-in insulation, blown-in insulation, breaching insulation, electrical wiring insulation.
  7. Construction Mastics (floor, carpet, and ceiling tile, etc)

 

If you find any of these suspected asbestos materials in your house, you may visit; http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/in-the-home to get rid of the asbestos material from your house safely.

Though, if you discover the materials on your workplace, you can visit; http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/in-the-workplace to help you conduct the right and the safest procedures

 

Where you can find asbestos in your property

Due to the massive mining, production, and usage of asbestos material, you may discover asbestos element in your home or workplace. Approximately one-third of all homes built in Australia contain asbestos products 10.

Mostly, this fiber material employed as part of construction element. That’s why you may regularly find asbestos cement as the most common material applied on Australia residential and commercial properties. Asbestos was utilized on the construction element due to its beneficial functions, such as its fire resistance material, help increasing building durability, and insulation properties.

 

(IMAGE 2)

 

Therefore, if you stay or reside in Australia, particularly in Melbourne area, you are urged to examine the possibility of the asbestos content in your house or property.

You may draw upon this guidance to assist you in discovering the asbestos products within your houses, buildings, or properties.

Further information on how to safely manage asbestos material on your property; http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/about-asbestos/managing-asbestos

 

Asbestos Regulations in Melbourne, Victoria

Before removing asbestos-containing materials from your house or property, you need to know about the regulations of asbestos in Melbourne area.

If you are going to remove asbestos products from your house, you need to comprehend these guidelines. These guidelines will help you understand on how to meet with the requirements of the asbestos regulations within Melbourne area.

 

Here are the links that you may access;  

How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace;

  • https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/9234/cc_asbestos_remove.pdf

Safety alert and the need of licensed asbestos removalist

  • http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/pages/forms-and-publications/forms-and-publications/management-and-disposal-of-asbestos

Further information on asbestos regulations in Victoria region, you may visit; http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/

 

What must I do if I have asbestos on my property?

If you own asbestos in your house, it’s better to leave the ACM (asbestos-containing material) undisturbed.

It’s because, as has been stated before, asbestos is a hazardous material if it’s in a bad or broken condition. The ACM may free some its tiny fibers. Although, if the asbestos products in your home are in good shape, the safest way is to leave it undisturbed.

Still, you MUST control and check your asbestos products regularly.

Be aware of these points before getting rid of asbestos material from your house or workplace;

  1. In order to remove the ACM, are you able to do it safely and in compliance with the law and regulations within your region?
  2. Are you the right person to remove it by yourself? Can you meet all the requirements in getting rid of your ACM?
  3. In order to remove it safely, do you have all the equipment and skill to conduct the procedures?
  4. Will you need a professional to help you with a safe asbestos removal procedure?
  5. What are the requirements and regulations you must know before eliminating asbestos-containing material in your region?

 

Transfer stations and Authorized Asbestos Landfill in Melbourne

Victoria;

http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/your-environment/waste/landfills-that-accept-asbestos-in-victoria

 

Who do I contact for further information concerning asbestos in Melbourne?

  • Local government: http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/
  • Work Safe Victoria: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/
  • EPA: http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/

Public Health Issue https://www2.health.vic.gov.au

 

References:

  1. http://www.australianasbestosnetwork.org.au/asbestos-history/asbestos-la-trobe-valley/
  2. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/mesothelioma
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012. ACIM (Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality) Books: Mesothelioma. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  4. 4 Australian Mesothelioma Registry 2013. 2nd Annual Report Mesothelioma in Australia 2012. New South Wales: Cancer Institute NSW
  5. Australian Mesothelioma Registry. (2014).3rd Annual Report – Mesothelioma in Australia 2013. Retrieved from http://www.mesothelioma-australia.com/publications-and-data/publications
  6. Peto, Julian. (2008). The Killer Within. The University of Melbourne Voice, vol. 3, no. 2.
  7. Melbourne: City of woes. The Age. 2 September 2003. Retrieved 2009-03-19
  8. Australia’s 2014 summer breaks 156 heat records with climate change. IndyMedia. Retrieved 31 March 2014
  9. Melbourne faces 10-day heatwave”. The Age. Melbourne. March 6, 2013
  10. https://www.asbestossafety.gov.au/asbestos-information