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Asbestos: Silent Killer in Renovation Projects

Summer and the spring holidays are often the times when people turn their mind to finish off lingering projects or do a home renovation. If you’re thinking about renovation or refurbishment projects, especially in Newcastle, Australia, you must think asbestos.

Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used in more than 3000 products worldwide, most commonly in car manufacturing, textile and construction industries. From the 1940s until the mid-1980s, fibrous cement sheet (fibro) was one of the most commonly used ACM construction products in Newcastle. Fibro products made before 1987 are categorized as non-friable ACM and they usually contain 15% asbestos.

They were widely used as ceiling and wall sheeting in workplaces, houses, and government buildings because of their strength and resistance to heat and chemicals. The most common types of fibrous cement sheets are flat sheets used for walls and ceilings, and corrugated sheets used for ceilings (knows as super six roofing).

During renovations of ACM-contaminated houses, fibro products may release fibres into the air and these fibres can remain airborne for a long time. This is why the removal of fibro products during renovations or demolitions of buildings needs to be supervised by licensed and qualified removalists to prevent the release of fibres into the surrounding environment.

Newcastle Asbestos Removal Project

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals that share asbestiform character. Asbestiform is a kind of crystal structure of a mineral that grows in a fibrous aggregate of high tensile strength, flexible, long, and thin crystals that readily separate.

Silicate minerals are rock-forming minerals and constitute almost 90 percent of the crust of the Earth. They are classified based on the structure of their silicate group that comprises different ratios of silicon and oxygen. Silicates make up the largest and most important class of rock-forming minerals. So in essence, Asbestos has long and thin fibrous crystals. Each fiber comprises of numerous microscopic “fibrils” that get released by abrasion and other processes. Fibre is classified by its colors, as blue, brown, white, and green fibre.

Image Source: Australian Department of Health

ACM can be categorized into two classes, which are non-Friable and friable.

  • Non-Friable class refers to fibers firmly bound in a matrix of cement, vinyl or another material.
  • Friable class refers to fibers loosely bound in products that can be easily crushed or pulverized by hand, releasing fibers into the atmosphere.

In other words, ACM which, when dry, can be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure is Friable ACM. On the other hand, non-friable ACM cannot be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry.

Where can I find fibro in my house?

ACM mining has been around for thousands of years. However, large-scale mining began only towards the end of the 19th century, when its properties such as sound absorption, average tensile strength, its resistance to heat, electrical and chemical damage, and affordability, with wide and varied applications across domestic, commercial and industrial sectors became more widely recognized.

Even though the use of fibre in fibro products was phased out during the 1980s, houses and buildings built before the late 1987s may contain fibro. Examples of where fibro can be commonly be found include:

  • Bathrooms, old garages, kitchens
  • External walls, corrugated roof
  • Internal cement sheeting
  • Fire blankets, insulation

What do I need to do if I find fibro?

If fibro is in good condition and left undisturbed, it usually will not present a significant health hazard. If fibres remain firmly bound in a structure such as in solid cement sheet or ‘fibro sheeting’, you usually do not need to remove or even coat it. However, if you have a material in your building may contain fibro and concerned with possible health risks, the Newcastle city council recommends you to contact a qualified consultant to analyse the material. If the material contains fibre, the qualified person can provide advice on how to manage the potential risks associated with the material.

Briefly, the Newcastle city council recommends you:

  1. Treat all fibro cement sheets as if they contain ACM unless tested
  2. Seek help from a licensed ACM removal contractor to conduct asbestos removal and testing and also dispose of all materials containing fibro

Remember: When you believe you have ACM in your house, don’t drill it! Don’t saw it! Don’t cut it! Don’t sand it! Don’t dismantle it! Don’t demolish it! And most importantly…Don’t dump it!

Basics of asbestos removal and testing

Since fibres can only be detected by a microscopic analysis, you need to contact professional contractors to test suspected materials that may contain ACM. An expert will conduct the testing process via a NATA accredited laboratory by using the modern and specialized equipment. If the presence of fibre is confirmed, they will later perform an assessment to determine the best method to remove the contaminated materials.

Only a class-A licensed removal contractor can perform the removal of more than 10 square meters of fibro.

Disposing of fibro products

Fibro waste must be disposed of at landfill sites approved by the government. Summerhill waste management center must be contacted before ACM products are taken there to protect workers. This process must be conducted by qualified personnel, as there are hefty fines associated with illegal dumping of hazardous waste.

The EPA stated that the penalty for an individual who willfully dumped ACM waste is maximum $1 million and 7 years jail time, while the maximum fine for a corporation is $5 million. – EPA NSW



Asbestos Watch Newcastle: the easiest way to find reliable contractors

If you suspected that fibrous materials might present in your workplace or house, get in touch with us immediately!

Asbestos Watch Newcastle is the home to A-class licensed contractors who are highly experienced, exceptionally skilled, and knowledgeable. We connect people with qualified and competent contractors who have been thoroughly assessed to ascertain their capability in delivering exceptional services at value prices. Our approved members can handle all projects caused by fibrous materials in residential, government, and commercial settings around the Newcastle area.

Our approved contractors will extract the toxic material in your property and undertake the jobs in accordance with current legislation; in the best way possible. They endeavor to eliminate the risk of fibre exposure and provide maximum protection for you and your building occupants. Whether it is in residential premises, government properties, or school buildings; our endorsed contractors have the necessary abilities, equipment, and experience to eliminate ACMs safely.

Extensive Services offered by our A-class licensed members

We only give our seal of endorsement to reliable contractors who get the job done right. Our endorsed contractors offer a comprehensive range of services that are tailored to meet your needs – at value costs! Upon your request, their team of specialists will analyse the presence of ACMs in your property and come up with most suitable asbestos removal and testing procedure. Then, our approved members will determine what control measures need to be taken next.

Our endorsed members offer extensive services as follows:

  • Asbestos removal Newcastle – Our approved removalists offer a wide range of services to remove fibrous materials from your property. Starting from removing ACM, transportation, and disposal of ACM waste in a legal landfill site.
  • Asbestos testing – A pre-inspection and sampling by a certified assessor and testing via an accredited laboratory.
  • Asbestos management plan – Based on an initial survey, our members will create a sound asbestos management plan Newcastle for your property. When needed, they can also update your ACM register to stay compliance with the current legislation.
  • Asbestos roof removal – A thorough analysis of your roofing structure, including removal and replacement of your old fibrous roof.
  • Air monitoring – Background and control air monitoring to ensure that the asbestos removal and testing site is safe for reoccupation.
  • Consultancy services – Independent reviews for ACM-related projects performed by different contractors.
  • Demolition – Performing a demolition survey or demolition project of large premise.
  • Soil remediation – Fast identification of ACM contaminated soil.
  • Emergency repair – Removal of all fibrous materials, including fencing, roofing, and flooring materials, upon incidents or natural accidents.

Our endorsed members are putting safety and quality at the center of all they do. Their team of professionals can manage even the most complex and challenging projects. They have years of experience in asbestos removal industry and have delivered the desired results for many clients. Don’t wait another minute! Call one or more contractors through Asbestos Watch Newcastle and provide them with a description of your needs.

Be smart, be safe! When it comes to asbestos removal, testing, roof removal, management plan in Newcastle, it is best to contact Asbestos Watch Newcastle A-class licensed contractors.

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Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

ACM products are known to have a good durability and a very stable effective life. A stated in the asbestos management code of practice, you need to review the condition of ACM in your workplace at least every 3 years. A less frequent review and assessment than 12 months may be performed when a competent person decided that ACM is in very good condition and has a low risk of disturbance.

There’s no way to know whether a material contains asbestos or not without testing them in an accredited laboratory. If ACM in your house is disturbed or damaged, contact a state accredited asbestos contractors to check it.

When it is in good condition and left undisturbed, removal of the vermiculite insulation may not be necessary. If you choose to get it removed, the EPA recommends you to seek help and advice from an accredited asbestos contractor that is independent from the company that performed the assessment to avoid any conflict of interest.

In principal, you should perform air monitoring after the removal work. However, doing air monitoring during and after the removal process is even better. During the removal process, a huge amount of fibres can be released from ACM. A prolong exposure to fibres can cause aggressive diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

10 square metres or less of non-friable asbestos can be removed without a license. You need to hire an accredited contractor when removing more than 10 square metres of non-friable ACM. Removal of any amount of friable asbestos must be done by a licensed and accredited contractor. An improper handling of ACM may be dangerous and threat the health and safety of the people who occupies your building.

Asbestos Watch New Castle will help you find a professional, certified, and reputable asbestos removal contractor within New Castle area. Our endorsed contractor will assist you in conducting a safe inspection and testing procedure.

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