If your home was built or renovated between the 1940s and late 1980s, chances are it contains asbestos materials. While studies suggest that asbestos in good condition is harmless, if it is disturbed or damaged, it can put your family’s health at serious risk.
Health effects of asbestos
Asbestos can have devastating affects on your heath. When disturbed, asbestos products release fibres, which when inhaled into the lungs, can cause chronic disease. The most common asbestos related diseases are:
- Asbestosis: a chronic disease that affects the lungs, and leads to difficulty with breathing and lung cancer.
- Mesothelioma: a cancer that affects the outer lining of the lungs (pleura). The cancer takes about 30-35 years or more after exposure to develop.
- Lung cancer: the most common disease linked to asbestos. Lung cancer caused by asbestos cannot be distinguished from lung cancer caused by other factors, such as smoking.
Now that the full extent of asbestos health risks is known, the use of asbestos materials is illegal.
Signs your home contains asbestos
Asbestos products were widely used because they were durable, fire resistant and had good insulation properties. Your home probably contains asbestos products if it was built or renovated before 1990.
Here are a few places that asbestos is commonly found:
- Vinyl flooring in kitchen and dining areas was often backed with a soft, felt-like material containing between 80 and 100 per cent asbestos. You will probably recognise the distinct diamond ‘terrazzo’ pattern in kitchens from the 60s and 70s. This style of flooring is often backed with asbestos.
- A few types of fencing contain asbestos materials. ‘Hardiplank’ woven fencing, in both smooth and wood grain finishes, and painted and un-unpainted Super Six fences and fence caps contain high levels of asbestos.
- Asbestos is also found in older electrical boxes, particularly in the insulation board behind the switches.
The Queensland Government has a few fantastic resources that we recommend you check out, including a poster illustrating common places asbestos is lurking.
We understand the dangers associated with asbestos, and we will not put you or your family at risk of asbestos poisoning.
If we suspect that your home contains asbestos, we will call in a professional asbestos remover who will send a sample away to be tested. If the sample comes back positive, they can remove it safely before we begin renovations.
Photo credit: Residential Resilient Sheet Flooring with Asbestos Backing (Image JD Hancock via Flickr)