Have you ever wondered what makes asbestos so dangerous?
In the early part of the 20th century, there were already concerns in the medical field that asbestos workers where at risk of dying from diseases of the respiratory system due to prolonged periods of exposure to asbestos. By the 1930s, a significant body of evidence about diseases related to asbestos exposure had accumulated.
For most people in our society, the risks of health problems due to exposure to asbestos fibers is small, even though everyone has been exposed to some during their lifetimes. When disturbed, the tiny fibers of asbestos turn into dust that can be easily breathed in. These fibers are able to continually split and become small enough to travel deep into the lungs where they can pierce its lining. Once the fibers are firmly embedded within the lining, they will stay there for the remainder of the individual’s life since the body does not have a way to remove items from the deepest part of the lungs. It is this inhalation of these fibrous asbestos particles that causes asbestos related diseases. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to cancer of the intestinal tract, mesothelioma, lung cancer, pleural plaques. and asbestosis.
Inhaling asbestos over a long period of time is lined to the development of and asbestos related disease. However, in some cases, even a brief exposure can case mesothelioma in a small group of people. How this happens is not well understood which is why it is vital that exposure to the fibers be kept to a minimum. Every year in Australia, more than 2,500 people are diagnosed with a disease linked to asbestos and that number is growing.
Works who are regularly exposed to asbestos experience the highest risk. The types of work that have the most risk are:
- Milling or mining asbestos
- Manufacturing or repairing products such as brake linings that are made using raw asbestos fiber
- The use of asbestos containing products within plumbing, boiler making, power stations, shipyards, heating, and building and construction.
- Demolition, repair, or remodeling of building and other structures that contain asbestos
Mesothelioma can show up after someone experiences and unexpected and brief exposure to it. The exposure could be due to shaking out clothing dusted with asbestos, after a short stint as a laborer, or even thirty years after doing renovations on a home with asbestos in it.
Asbestos in Melbourne, Victoria
Within Victoria, there has never been any mining of asbestos. However, an increasing number of residents are being diagnosed with diseases related to asbestos as a result of the widespread use of it in manufacturing, building, and transportation. Since it can can 20 or more years for the disease to develop after exposure to asbestos, it is expected that many more people in Victoria will be diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, plural plaques, or asbestosis in the future.
It is important that if you live in a home that was built in the 70s or 80s and contains the products below, you should contact a Melbourne asbestos removal company if you suspect that any of the products in your home do contain asbestos – particularly if they’ve been damaged or you want them removed.
It may still be found in many products, since it was widely used in the past. These products include:
Building materials such as cement sheeting for residential and industrial use; electrical switchboards, chemical tanks, fire protection materials, casings for electrical wires, sewage piping, products used for water supply, and asbestos cement sheet pipe.
In addition to these, it was often used for friction products such as brake linings and clutch facings.
Asbestos paper was used in underlying material for sheet flooring, small appliance components, heat and electrical wire insulation, heat protective mats, and table pads.
Asbestos was used in textile products for heaters, roofing materials, and packing components.
Sealants, coatings, paints, packings and gaskets, as well as floor and ceiling tiles often contained asbestos.
During the 1980s, the use of asbestos in products was gradually ceased. Asbestos flat sheeting was phased out between 1981 and 1983. By 1985, roofing and cladding corrugated product manufacture ceased. After 1987, piping lined with asbestos was no longer made and brake pads and linings no longer contained asbestos after 2003.
At this time, industry is no longer able to replace asbestos containing materials or install, reuse, use, sell, transport, store, supply, manufacture, or import materials containing asbestos fiber.