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WHAT IS ASBESTOS?

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring silicate minerals. These minerals have been mined from the earth and used in a wide variety of products since ancient times due to their stable chemical properties which make them highly insulative, resistant to heat and resistant to chemical attack. Due to these properties it was once claimed as the worlds ‘miracle fibre’ and it's name derives from the ancient Greek word, ἄσβεστος, for 'unquenchable' or 'inextinguishable'.

Unfortunately, it's now clear that, when inhaled, the microscopic asbestos fibres are highly carcinogenic and can have devastating health effects for workers and home-owners which only become apparent 30-40 years after initial exposure. Worse still, attempting to remove asbestos products without the correct procedures, RPE, PPE and equipment can actually release more of these invisible fibres into the air and into the surrounding environment. This is why asbestos products are referred to as the 'invisible killer'. For more information refer to our articles on asbestos exposure and identifying asbestos

Australia and New Zealand asbestos has been used in over 3000 products and despite a total ban on the use and manufacture of Asbestos products in 2003 it is still present in approximately one third of Australian homes.

 

There are three common types of asbestos fibres:

  • White Asbestos (Chrysotile) – Fibres are curly and difficult to separate. They are white to grey in colour. 
  • Brown asbestos (Amosite)  – The type of asbestos found most in sprayed insulation materials.
  • Blue Asbestos (Crocidolite) – Encountered in maintenance and removal work. It's fibres are straight and coloured dark blue.

Under NSW Occupational Health and safety legislation, material that contains asbestos is referred to as either friable or bonded.

Naturally occuring asbestos minerals.
Naturally occuring asbestos minerals.

Bonded Asbestos Material

Bonded asbestos material is any material that contains asbestos in a bonded matrix. It may consist of Portland cement or various resin/binders and cannot be crushed by hand when dry. Asbestos cement (AC) products and electrical metering boards in good condition are examples of bonded material.

A large number of products made from asbestos cement are still found in Australian buildings.

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Friable asbestos

Friable asbestos material is any material that contains asbestos and is in the form of a powder or can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry.

Sprayed limpet, millboard, pipe and boiler lagging are examples of friable asbestos.

Dangers of Asbestos Exposure

There is no “safe” level of exposure to asbestos. The more asbestos fibres you are exposed to, the greater the risk of getting asbestos related disease. This is why it is so important to prevent exposure in the first place. Asbestos is known to be very toxic, especially following prolonged exposure. Breathing in very small fibres of asbestos causes the ill health effects of exposure to asbestos.

Diseases caused by asbestos are asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers. Large numbers of Australian workers are still being diagnosed with asbestos related illnesses, many years after they were exposed. Many of these workers will die.

For more information on the health effects of asbestos exposure click here.

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Our Experience

Asbestos Remediation

ANZ ENVIRO  thrive on projects from tender stage all the way through to handover and completion, we have a incredibly experienced team with a professional attitude towards a wide range of hazardous and deadly materials, this is what differentiates us from the rest this business. We will not compromise on safety for our operators or our customers. 

ANZ Enviro holds an unrestricted Asbestos license. With our team of highly experienced professionals we can safely and confidently handle the removal of wide range of hazardous asbestos providing you with peace of mind. If you have asbestos contamination in your site or home contact us for a site visit, quote or asbestos testing today.