Archaeologists have discovered that the use of asbestos can be traced back to prehistoric times; however, the mineral became prominent during the Industrial Age.
It is a naturally occurring mineral, and it can resist heat, corrosion, and electricity. It is composed of small fibers. Types of this mineral include chrysotile, Crocidolite, Amosite, Anthophyllite, Tremolite, and Actinolite.
A long time before, this fibrous material was used as wicks in lamps and candles. It was also said that mummies were wrapped with clothes for the bodies to be protected from deterioration.
It was used widely in different industrial applications during the industrial age because of its properties:
- Highly acid-resistant
- Heat insulation
- Heat resistant
Products containing it include:
- Automotive and airline clutches
- Insulation for electrical wiring
- Millboard and paper for electrical panels,
- Fillers and reinforcement for plasters
- Caulking compounds
- Paints and spray-on
- Fire-retardant coating for steel girders in buildings
However, the dangers of it were discovered. It is not the chemical content that makes it dangerous but the structure and size of its particles. When inhaled, it may cause scarring of your lung tissues or any other diseases related to it. This is why we must identify the materials we have at home or work if it contains this harmful mineral (read more).
Scientific studies show that exposure and inhalation of these harmful fibers may cause certain diseases. Examples are:
- Lung cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Pleural effusions
- Pleuritis and diffuse pleural thickening
There are two risk categories for this material. They are as follows:
These are those that can be broken easily to and can be crumbled by hand. Talcum powder contaminated with these harmful fibers and old pipe insulation is good examples. We are at risk of these materials because they quickly release toxic dust into the air.
Unlike the friable ones, this is the opposite. Non-friable materials are very durable. These include cement slabs and vinyl tiles. Fibers are enclosed inside these materials and remain there as long as no circumstance could let them out. If these materials are scraped or smashed, or there is any hole in the material, the fibers are released, or you have given them a way out.
After the discovery of its harmful effects, places started limiting or banning this material. Following are countries where this toxic mineral was partially or fully banned in 2003 due to new environmental regulations and consumer demand:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Kingdom
Asbestos Removal In Melbourne
If your house or office was made during the industrial age, there is a big chance that the materials used contain this harmful mineral. Now that you are aware of its harmful effects, you for sure would be thinking of having it removed. Always remember, though, that this is not as simple as doing it on your own. It all needs expert eyes and hands to determine if the material contains these harmful fibers up to the removal. There are companies in Melbourne which could help you with that.
They have trusted removal services in Melbourne that you may check. Companies like Bison Asbestos Removal Melbourne VIC, does the removal, testing, and disposal of these dangerous fibers.
Locally based contractors and a group of licensed removalists can carry out removal procedures following health and safety regulations. They can work on residential up to large commercial sites. You may contact them anytime if you have inquiries.
Why Is Professional Help Needed?
Determining if a material contains this harmful mineral needs proper and adequate training. So is the removal of it. This is a hazardous task; you might be harmed when you do it by yourself. There are also many things to prepare before the removal, like lab testing of material, risk assessment, etc.
You have to be a licensed removalist for you to be qualified to do the work. Following are the three types of removalist license:
Class A Removal License
This is a license given to those who have undergone and passed the training for removing friable asbestos. As discussed earlier, these are materials that are crumbled or crushed easily.
Class B Removal License
Opposite the Class A license, license holders for Class B are those who have undergone and passed training for the removal of non-friable asbestos. This is a license given to businesses.
Licensed assessors are trained to do jobs related to Class A removal license. From the word itself, they do the assessment of a material if it really contains the harmful fibrous element. They also issue clearance certificates after materials were removed.
This is a license given to an individual and is valid for five years. Assessors should ensure that they are honest with their job and know the regulations governing their job. The WHSQ is monitoring them to ensure that they are being competent and are safely doing the work.
Asbestos Management In Victoria
There is a compliance code prepared in Victoria about managing these harmful fibers in offices or buildings. This code guides who are responsible for any job related to asbestos. This code states the obligations displayed under OHS Act 2004 or the OHS Regulations.
Information about certain situations (other than removal work) where there is a risk to health due to exposure to these harmful fibers in a workplace is provided in this code, including:
- Where this material can be found in a structure, a building, ship, plant, or anywhere else in workspaces or offices.
- If there is demolition work being done in offices, facilities, plants, or areas where this fibrous material is identified to be present.
- Any activity that involves it.
This code applies to a set of duty holders, including:
- People who are working in places where these harmful materials are present.
- Person in charge of a workplace or is in order of its administration.
- People who are having reconstruction or renovation work in their stores or offices where this harmful fibrous mineral is present.
- People who took part in jobs or tasks in the office or building relating to asbestos.
Moreover, this code will benefit those employees, owners, or even third party contractors who want to be safe from the risk of it or are affected by the management of these harmful fibers in the offices/workplaces, destruction and reconstruction jobs, or any other activities that are connected to it.
More details of this code can be viewed on this link: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/resources/compliance-code-managing-asbestos-workplaces.