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Risks of existing asbestos

Asbestos was commonly used in building materials between the 1940s and the late 1980s. It was used because it is fire resistant, durable and an efficient insulating material. Now that we are aware of the health risks, it is no longer mined in Australia. Since the beginning of 2004, it has also not been imported or used in any Australian products.

Asbestos Melbourne only poses a risk to health when asbestos fibres are breathed in.

The presence of asbestos in home building materials generally does not pose a health risk unless the material is broken, deteriorating or disturbed in such a way that airborne asbestos fibres are produced. There is the potential for this to occur when asbestos-containing material is being broken, or when it is being drilled, sanded or cut with a power tool.

Today in the Australia, most occupational exposures occur during repair, renovation, removal, or maintenance of asbestos that was installed years ago. People can also be exposed at home, both to old sources of asbestos as a result of activities such as home renovation or to new sources of asbestos as a result of certain types of recreational activities and hobbies such as auto repairs or gardening, which may disturb natural outcroppings of asbestos in the environment.

It is difficult to tell whether a building material contains asbestos, and the only way to be certain is to have a sample of the material tested by an accredited laboratory. If the material is not tested, it should be treated as though it contains asbestos Melbourne.

Most people who develop asbestos-related diseases have worked on jobs where they frequently breathed in large amounts of asbestos fibres. For example, in the past, construction workers using unsafe practices may have frequently encountered asbestos fibre levels well above background levels. Some may have also carried asbestos fibres home on their clothing, skin and hair, and exposed family members to the fibres.

Asbestos Melbourne exposure has been linked to a range of diseases including:

  • Pleural plaques – thickened patches of scar tissue on the pleura (lining) of the lung
  • Asbestosis – progressive scar tissue inside the lungs that impairs breathing
  • Lung cancer – can develop decades after asbestos exposure. Smokers and people with asbestosis are most susceptible
  • Mesothelioma – a type of cancer that affects the pleura, the covering of the lung and lining of the chest wall and diaphragm. It can also develop decades after asbestos exposure.