In Australia, asbestos cement materials were first manufactured in the 1920’s.
Popular because of their excellent insulating qualities and durability, these products were commonly used in the manufacture of residential building materials from the mid 1940s, until the late 1980s.
During the 1980s, asbestos cement materials were phased out in favour of asbestos-free products. From 31st December 2003, the total ban on manufacture, use, reuse, import, transport, storage or sale of all forms of asbestos, came into effect.
Asbestos was banned because of the rising incidences of asbestos related diseases, including: Asbestosis, lung disease and Mesothelioma. These diseases can take a long time to develop, between 10 and 40 years.
Malignant Mesothelioma has a strong causal association with asbestos. In Australia alone, approximately 19,000 people have been diagnosed with this fatal disease since 1982: Including, 600 reported cases per year, since 2003.
Many of the Mesothelioma cases in WA are ex-workers on asbestos mines. Miners experienced extremely high asbestos fibre exposure, in Wittenoom, up until 1983.
According to enHealth report 2013, Householders are categorised as low-risk for asbestos exposure in the event of a one off, unsafe asbestos disturbance, or neighbouring demolition. When safe practises are not adhered to, exposure to home renovators may be categorised as medium risk, and for tradespeople, the exposure risk may be considered high.
Maintaining safe levels of airborne asbestos fibres in our general environment is dependent on all tradespeople, builders and property owners adopting a safety first approach to asbestos identification, management and removal.