Asbestos Removal Brisbane
Asbestos was widely used in construction in Australia between 1940 and the late 1980s. Residential and commercial buildings that were constructed before 1990 likely contain this substance. Asbestos was banned in Australia for all uses on 31 Dec. 2003, but it hasn’t been used since the late 1980s for domestic construction. Before residential and commercial buildings that were built before 1989 can be renovated or demolished, people must take certain steps to determine whether they contain asbestos. If they do, special steps must be taken to remove the asbestos so that people are not exposed to it.
What is asbestos?
A naturally occurring mineral substance, asbestos can be stretched and pulled to form a consistency that is fluffy. Asbestos is fibrous, and the fibres are soft and flexible. Asbestos fibres are highly durable and are resistant to heat, chemical corrosion, and electricity. The substance is also resistant to fires. Because of these properties, asbestos was widely used in the construction industry in Brisbane and throughout Australia for decades. Asbestos can be found in roofing materials, insulation, siding shingles, textured paints, floor tiles, and patching compounds that were used on walls. Asbestos may also be found in ductwork for furnaces and boilers.
Asbestos has no scent and cannot be readily seen. The only way that you can know for sure whether your home or building contains asbestos is to hire a licensed asbestos building inspector and removal specialist. The professional can take small samples to test in a laboratory.
Why asbestos is dangerous
Asbestos fibres may be released into the air when the asbestos is disturbed. The fibres are tiny and may be inhaled by people who work around it. When the fibres are inhaled, they may lodge in the lungs and cause scarring. Asbestos fibres cannot be broken down by the body and can cause three serious diseases, including the following:
- Lung cancer
Asbestosis is a noncancerous respiratory condition that is often fatal. The symptoms of asbestosis may include shortness of breath, a crackling sound when people inhale, and cardiac failure in its advanced stages. In people who have asbestosis, the fibres cause scarring in the lungs and an inflammation of the lung tissues. There is no cure or effective treatment for asbestosis. People who demolish or renovate homes and buildings that contain asbestos have a heightened risk of developing asbestosis.
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer of the lining that surrounds the lungs, abdomen, chest, and heart. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 651 people died from mesothelioma in 2016 alone. The number of new cases of mesothelioma has steadily increased since 1982. Among men, there was an increase from 135 cases of mesothelioma in 1982 to 592 new cases in 2017. Women saw an increase from 22 cases in 1982 to 118 in 2017. In the construction industry, people whose jobs were to install insulation have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. Others who have a higher risk of developing this disease include people who were employed in asbestos mines, shipyards, asbestos mills and factories, and those who live with them.
Lung cancer from asbestos exposure can develop and is responsible for a large number of asbestos-related deaths. The symptoms of lung cancer may include shortness of breath, a chronic cough, anemia, changes in respiration, hoarseness, and chronic chest pains. People who were exposed to asbestos and who smoke are much likelier to develop lung cancer than those who either were only exposed to asbestos or who only smoke.
Types of asbestos
The Brisbane City Council reports that there are two types of asbestos that may be found in buildings, including bonded asbestos and fibrous asbestos. Bonded asbestos is found in products in which the asbestos was bonded using resin or cement so that it is more stable. This might include flooring tiles, siding shingles, and roofing shingles. The dangers presented by this form of asbestos are low unless the materials are disturbed. However, if they are disturbed, asbestos fibres may be released into the air and be inhaled.
Fibrous asbestos is dangerous and should only be handled by licensed asbestos removal specialists. This form of asbestos may be found in any type of product in which the asbestos can be crumbled such as insulation.
Why you should not try to remove asbestos yourself
If you suspect that your home or building might contain asbestos because of its age, you should not complete any renovation work. Buildings and homes that contain asbestos should also not be demolished until the asbestos has been safely removed by licensed professional contractors. You should never try to remove asbestos yourself. You should also avoid drilling into siding or shingles or removing old vinyl flooring tiles that may contain asbestos. If there is felt underlay underneath old carpets, you should not remove it yourself and instead have professionals remove it and thoroughly clean your home of dust.
If you do remove asbestos, you run the risk of developing one of the serious diseases that can be caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. You also will not be able to dispose of asbestos at any resource recovery centres in Brisbane or in your household’s recycling, rubbish, or green bins. Only licensed professionals are allowed to dispose of asbestos at the city’s resource recovery centres at approved sites.
Laws and regulations governing asbestos removal
In Australia, each state has its own laws and regulations regarding the removal of asbestos. If you plan to remove less than 10 square metres of asbestos, you are legally able to do so. However, it is strongly recommended that you get the help of a licensed professional. Removing even a small amount of asbestos can expose you to the health risks that are associated with it, and as was previously discussed, you will not be able to dispose of it.
The Queensland Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 governs asbestos inspection and removal throughout Queensland. Under the regulations, there are two types of licences that businesses may obtain to remove asbestos, including class A licences and class B licences. Asbestos removal companies that have class A licences are able to remove friable and non-friable asbestos. Those that have class B licences may only remove non-friable forms of asbestos. Friable asbestos refers to the fibrous form of asbestos that carries much greater risks while non-friable asbestos is the type that is found in bonded materials.
The individual workers who work for companies that hold class A or class B licences do not have individual licences. However, they are required to receive extensive training before they can engage in asbestos removal work. The companies must also pay for and arrange health monitoring for all trained workers who work with and are exposed to asbestos. The health monitoring services must be arranged prior to the start of the asbestos removal work.
Professional monitoring, inspection, and asbestos removal Brisbane services with Threshold Environmental Services
The professionals at Threshold Environmental Services have more than 15 years of experience in assisting companies in a broad variety of industries with their asbestos monitoring and EPA compliance needs. In Queensland and in Brisbane, companies that have buildings that are older than 1989 must have asbestos registers and asbestos management plans in place. Buildings that contain friable asbestos must also have air monitoring services in place to test for ambient asbestos fibres in the air. While there is not a requirement for monitoring for buildings that contain non-friable asbestos, it is important for companies to take precautions.
The asbestos professionals at Threshold Environmental Services are able to conduct audits of residential properties and commercial buildings to determine whether they contain asbestos-containing materials. If asbestos is found, the audits also identify the degree of risk that the materials present. The professionals identify where the materials are located and their condition, and they help to create detailed asbestos registers.
Asbestos audits may either be non-destructive or destructive. In non-destructive asbestos audits, the professionals inspect all areas of the buildings to identify materials that are suspected of containing asbestos. Destructive asbestos audits are used prior to any renovations or demolition work. In these audits, the professionals take samples to analyze in the lab to determine the presence of asbestos and its type.
Threshold also helps companies to create asbestos management plans. To control and manage any asbestos that is found on site, the plan will address the condition of the materials and how they will remain undisturbed. The plan will include information about best practices to keep the asbestos in good condition and to monitor its condition. It also will contain plans for hazard controls and ways to minimise the accidental release of fibres through damage.
When asbestos is in poor condition or renovations will be undertaken
If the asbestos materials in a building or residence are in poor condition or need to be removed before demolition or renovation work, Threshold Environmental Services can offer asbestos removal project management services. Whenever asbestos-containing materials will be removed, it is important for people to have air quality monitoring in place to test for airborne asbestos fibres.
Before the asbestos removal project begins, Threshold Environmental Services will conduct background asbestos air monitoring. This helps to detect the levels of airborne fibres that are present in the air prior to the work being performed.
During the removal of asbestos, control monitoring of asbestos fibres in the air will be conducted. This type of monitoring is performed at the boundaries of the area in which the asbestos is being removed to assess the effectiveness of the control measures that are being used.
Upon completion of the asbestos removal project, Threshold Environmental Services will conduct a visual inspection and a clearance airborne fibre monitoring service. This monitoring service is used to ensure that the levels of asbestos fibres in the removal area and the surrounding areas are below 0.01 f/ml of air, which is the regulatory requirement.
The final type of asbestos removal monitoring that Threshold Environmental Services conducts is exposure airborne asbestos fibre monitoring of workers who have been exposed to asbestos during the removal process. The results are then compared to the Safe Work Asbestos Exposure Standards.
Threshold Environmental Services can prepare detailed clearance reports after your asbestos removal project. This can help you to keep in compliance with the laws and regulations in Queensland and in Australia for the safety of workers, visitors, residents, and others who might otherwise be exposed to asbestos.
During an asbestos removal project, all of the workers who will be involved in the removal of asbestos-containing materials must wear protective safety clothing and use respirators. The areas in which they will be removing the asbestos must be sealed to prevent the fibres from escaping into adjacent areas.
Why choose Threshold Environmental Services for asbestos removal Brisbane?
If your building was built before 1989 and you are a business, you must have an asbestos register and management plan in place so that you can stay in compliance with the law and protect your workers and visitors. If your home predates 1989, you should also have it audited before you begin any renovation work.
Threshold Environmental Services has helped businesses in Brisbane and throughout Australia with their occupational health and safety asbestos monitoring programs for more than 15 years. All of the analytical testing that we perform is conducted using the latest scientific methods and according to current international and Australian standards. To learn more about the services that we offer, fill out our contact form or call our office at 07 3498 0207.