Between 1945 and 1980, asbestos materials were often used in the construction industry in Australia. Over time, the public began to realise that this material was very toxic, and its use was reduced, until it was banned completely since 31 December 2003. However, there are still many at risk of dangerous diseases associated with asbestos, especially the construction workers.
Asbestos materials are highly toxic and can lead to a number of lung diseases, which can be deadly. Although it has been banned in Australia, there is likely to be a number of people with asbestos-related lung disease, especially from home construction workers. Asbestos is a group of natural minerals made from crystals that are very small and fibrous, including chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite. Asbestos comes from underground.
Several years ago in Australia, asbestos was used for various construction purposes, such as for making fireproof-buildings, and also used in roofing. Asbestos fibres are so small that they can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibres can then lodge in the lungs and lead to diseases that can be deadly, including lung shrinkage and mesothelioma lung cancer.
Thousands of Australians have lost their lives due to asbestos-related illnesses. As reported by the Health. NSW, asbestos fibres that are inhaled and into the lungs can cause asbestosis (the occurrence of scar tissue in the lungs), lung cancer and mesothelioma (malignant cancer that attacks the mesothelium membrane).
Symptoms of lung disease can only be detected after 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos. The most vulnerable are those who are exposed to asbestos while working in the mining, manufacturing and construction industries. Currently, those who are at risk the most in Australia are people who work in the demolition of old buildings that still have asbestos.
Inhaling asbestos fibres can hurt and thicken the pleural lining of the lungs. The injured pleura can also secrete fluid into the cavity between two pleural layers. Pleural disease is not harmful but can cause breathing difficulty. Asbestosis disease, on the other hand, is a wound in the lungs due to exposure to asbestos. Symptoms include a dry cough and bluish hue on the skin, due to lack of oxygen.
Lung cancer is more likely to infect those who smoke and are also exposed to asbestos. Symptoms include coughing, weight loss and blood in saliva and sputum. In general, faster diagnosis is better. Lung cancer that is still in its early stages can sometimes be treated with surgery.
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lung lining. A little exposure to asbestos can lead to this, but that does not mean exposure to asbestos will surely end up becoming mesothelioma. Currently, there is no way to cure mesothelioma.
The Dangers of Asbestos-Containing Roof
Asbestos is still widely used for roofing in houses. In the long term, the continuous inhalation of asbestos can pose a health risk. Asbestos enters the body through inhalation. Small amounts of airborne asbestos fibres that a person breathes while breathing will not cause pain. Normally, a person only inhales asbestos in very small amounts, and it only poses a low risk to health. Some studies have shown that asbestos sheets do not show significant health risks.
People who are very at risk of health problems due to asbestos commonly work in mining or industry. But that does not mean the asbestos-containing roof used for housing is not dangerous at all, and it’s just that the risk of health problems is lower. Different types of material made from asbestos create different levels of health risks. If asbestos fibres are in solid forms such as sheets and the condition is still good, then the health risks are small. However, if the sheets are damaged, hollowed or incorrect installation, then they may create higher risks.
Asbestos building materials are generally used as cement sheets (fibro), drainage, pipe chimneys, roofing or other building boards. Since the 1960s and 1970s, asbestos fibres are widely used by the public as the roof of the house.
There are several ways that can be done to reduce the exposure of asbestos fibres and do short-term prevention, including:
- Spraying water onto asbestos sheets to prevent soil, dust or fibres from becoming airborne.
- Overlaying the asbestos with plastic sheets or tarps to avoid the weather exposure.
- Prevent children from playing on roofs made from asbestos.
- Replace damaged or hollowed asbestos sheets.
- Provide space boundary between asbestos and rooms in the house as much as possible.
Regarding home renovation, products with undisturbed and fully-intact asbestos are relatively safe, but they become dangerous when being cut, drilled, or sanded because through such process the asbestos fibres can get disintegrated and inhaled. Before renovating and tearing down the house, contact the asbestos removal in Sydney (https://www.asbestoswatchsydney.com.au/asbestos-removal-sydney/) contractor it is important to find out which products in your home that contain asbestos.