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Asbestos-related diseases are the reason for quite a number of deaths over time. Homes that were built before the 1990s may contain asbestos products. These products may release asbestos fibres when disturbed and pose serious health hazards.
That is why you should be aware of the hidden dangers of asbestos and where they may be lurking in your home. This article will consider locations for hidden asbestos in your home and the risks of asbestos exposure.
Here, you can also read up on asbestos safety tips, what to do if your home contains asbestos, and asbestos awareness statistics.
Hidden Locations of Asbestos Materials in Homes
The presence of asbestos is something you should pay attention to. Asbestos-containing building materials may have been phased out of use since the 90s. However, the risk of exposure in a home built before this time is high because it may contain asbestos.
Asbestos-containing materials can be found in electrical metre boards, ovens, and chimneys; bath surrounds in bathrooms; underneath sinks; and bituminous lining. Meanwhile, other places where asbestos materials can be found in the home include the following locations:
Floor tiles and coverings
You should properly check the floor coverings in your rooms. Floor coverings can have newer layers over older ones. Asbestos materials, such as asbestos cement sheets, may exist between layers of vinyl.
Check the edges and corners of floor coverings in wet regions such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry. The edges are easier to lift. You may discover asbestos-containing products such as AC sheets and vinyl floor tiles/sheets.
Asbestos cement walls
Walls may have multiple layers and original asbestos cement sheet walls may be layered over. This is one thing to check for. Another is to look out for asbestos tape wrapped around pipes in internal walls (if you can see the inner walls).
Heating features have been found to contain asbestos, including fire pit base and fireplace infills. You can also check steam pipes and hot water pipes.
Ceiling and roofing
The wall and ceiling of your home may contain asbestos cement. The ceiling may be an asbestos cement sheet. Likewise, the cover straps, patches, and vent covers may have asbestos cement. Popcorn ceilings may also contain asbestos.
In the same vein, you can check the ceiling cavity. After all, builders preferred using cement sheets for utility hole covers due to the solidity of their edges. Old asbestos roofs can be covered with metal roofs, so you should also check the roofing material.
While houses are generally not insulated with asbestos-containing materials, there have been cases where asbestos insulation has been used. Similarly, the insulation material of your house may become contaminated if your home has ever had an asbestos cement roof.
Common Indoor Sources of Asbestos Exposure
After considering some areas where asbestos may be lurking in homes, you can now take a look at some familiar sources of asbestos indoors:
This includes floor tiles, insulation, and ceiling tiles. These are usually friable forms of asbestos that crumble easily or are damaged.
Repairs and home renovations
It would be best to be careful when performing certain house activities, such as home renovations and repairs. This is especially the case if the activities disturb asbestos materials.
Asbestos from external sources
Another source of asbestos in the home is that it comes with clothes, shoes, pet fur, and other objects.
If your outdoor air has high levels of asbestos, it can come in through your windows, door, and air vents.
Risks of Asbestos Exposure in the Home
You risk being exposed to asbestos if you inhale asbestos fibres. Asbestos products can release asbestos fibres when disturbed. After breathing these fibres, they can become trapped in your lungs.
Continued exposure to asbestos can lead to health problems, and your doctor can help you check your health risks for asbestos exposure. Asbestos-related diseases resulting from trapped asbestos fibres include lung cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pleural mesothelioma.
In fact, asbestos poses a risk of reduced life expectancy in children and adults. However, you are less likely to be exposed to asbestos fibres if natural asbestos or asbestos products are not disturbed.
In addition, you should note that people who have worked with asbestos or have been exposed to it for a long time are at higher risk for asbestos exposure.
Safety Tips for Asbestos in the Home
If you work with asbestos or asbestos products or you work around them, you can use the following asbestos safety tips:
- Do not touch or disturb asbestos materials without proper training.
- Wear the correct personal protective equipment.
- Assess the risks of asbestos exposure if your building has ageing insulation or materials that may contain asbestos.
- Contact your local environmental agency or licensed asbestos removalists to manage asbestos materials that break down or need replacement.
- Be sure to use licensed asbestos removalists who follow safe asbestos removal and disposal regulations.
What to Do if Your Home Contains Asbestos
After considering the areas where asbestos may be lurking in your homes, you may wonder what steps you should take if you suspect the presence of asbestos.
- First, remember that you do not necessarily have to remove asbestos if it is in good condition.
- In any case, you can get a professional to perform asbestos testing. This is very important when renovating your home.
- They can help you identify asbestos in your home and take steps to remove and dispose of it properly if necessary.
- Note that illegal dumping of asbestos or improperly disposing of it can attract significant fines and even jail time.
Asbestos Awareness Statistics
The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 specifies that all individuals who perform asbestos-related work must have asbestos awareness training. You do not need to wait until National Asbestos Awareness Month to promote awareness about the dangers of asbestos.
Here are some asbestos awareness statistics to give you a better sense of the hidden dangers of asbestos in your home:
- Up to one in three homes built before 1982 in Australia contains asbestos.
- Records show that this hidden danger lurking in many Australian homes results in yearly costs of up to $11.2 million.
- Even with the ban on asbestos, yearly illegal dumps get up to 6,000 tonnes, and approximately 6.4 million tonnes of asbestos remain across the country.
- An estimated 4000 Australian deaths occur each year due to asbestos-related diseases.
- Natural disasters are on the increase because of climate change. Floods and bushfires have a high impact on asbestos buildings.
- Thousands of homes and workshops have asbestos roofs, walls, and floors.
Agencies Providing Asbestos Safety Information
Some agencies help address the safety concerns of homeowners or employees in each state and territory.
These agencies include the following:
- Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency provides asbestos safety information.
- Environmental Protection Authority has information on asbestos transportation and disposal.
- Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA) informs about asbestos-related diseases.
Licensed Asbestos Removalists Can Help
You have now read up on the dangers of asbestos and places where it may lurk in your home. This post also considered the risks of asbestos exposure, safety tips, and what to do if your home contains asbestos.
Considering the statistics, you may not be able to live safely with asbestos in your home if proper testing for asbestos is not done. Local asbestos removalists have licensed asbestos removal crews who are experienced at removing asbestos safely from buildings, products, and homes. You can call on them to protect you and your loved ones from asbestos exposure.