Asbestos is a silicate mineral made up of tiny fibres that were used for a range of manufacturing products in Australia from as early as the 1920's until the 1980's. Exposure to the fibres may cause illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. The manufacture, supply, use, import, transport, storage and sale of all forms of asbestos was banned from 31 December 2003.
Asbestos is naturally found in the environment we live in. Asbestos can be found in two forms;
- Friable: is loosely bound and is more likely to release fibres and is more of a health risk.
- Non-friable: is bound and less likely to release fibres unless it is damaged.
Non-friable asbestos containing material is generally safe if it is not damaged and left undisturbed. When it is disturbed by drilling, boring, cutting, grinding, sanding, breaking etc., it produces a dust that contains friable asbestos.
Illness development will depend on a range of factors including;
- the level of exposure
- the duration of exposure
- fibre type
- other environmental factors