Asbestos Melbourne is the name given to a group of fibrous silicate minerals that can potentially cause lung disease if inhaled. It is a mineral fibre that exists naturally in the ground in various parts of Australia and the world.
There are three main types of asbestos:
- Crocidolite (blue asbestos);
- Amosite (brown asbestos) and;
- Chrysotile (white asbestos).
It is strong, flexible, and resistant to heat, chemicals and electrical conditions.
Large amounts of asbestos were used in new and refurbished buildings before 2000. Usage began to decline in the 1970s and blue asbestos (crocidolite) had a voluntary ban in 1970. Blue and brown (amosite) asbestos were banned by law in 1985. Uses of white asbestos (chrysotile) were banned in 1999. Everything else and most second hand supply (except for very high performance materials) were banned by 2000.
Therefore, all supply of materials containing asbestos is banned, including making materials available to a third party in any way, whether or not for any payment.
Asbestos-containing materials fall into two broad categories: non-friable and friable.
‘Non-Friable’ means material containing asbestos that is not friable, including material containing asbestos fibres reinforced with a bonding compound. These materials are unlikely to release measurable levels of asbestos fibre into the airborne environment if they are left undisturbed.
Therefore, they generally pose a lower risk to health. Examples of non-friable asbestos-containing materials include:
- Asbestos cement products (flat and corrugated sheeting used in walls, ceilings and roofs, moulded items such as downpipes)
- Vinyl floor coverings.
‘Friable’ is used to refer to asbestos-containing materials in a powder form or that can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand, when dry. These materials are more likely to release measurable levels of asbestos into the airborne environment when disturbed, and generally pose a greater risk to health. Examples of friable asbestos-containing materials include:
- Sprayed asbestos fire retardants
- Thermal lagging, such as pipe insulation.