Asbestos is a term used for the fibrous forms of several naturally occurring minerals within objects and some of our roofs.
Commercial use of asbestos within Australia and especially asbestos roofing began at the end of the 19th Century – With use reaching a peak in 1950’s – 1970’s with the construction of new ‘System Built’ buildings and refurbishment of older buildings.
Today many are removing and replacing with more up to date conventional materials.
Why is an asbestos roof dangerous?
Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related diseases, mainly cancers of the lung and chest lining. Asbestos-related disease is one of the biggest occupational health killers within Australia.
25% of those dying of Asbestos poisoning once worked in the building and maintenance trades and often would have worked unknowingly on asbestos containing materials.
Who is at risk?
It is now illegal to use asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of any premises but many thousands of tonnes were used in the past and much will still be in place.
As long as the asbestos is in good condition and will not be disturbed or damaged there is minimal risk.
If, however, it is disturbed or damaged it can become a danger to health because the needle-like fibres may be released into the air and become inhaled.
Anyone who comes into contact with fibres can be at risk. Those who will be at particular risk are those who may disturb asbestos, anyone whose work involves drilling, sawing or cutting into the fabric of premises could potentially be at risk.
The scientific evidence on exactly what exposures of asbestos cause disease is unclear, but it is known the most asbestos fibres breathed in, the greater the risk to health.