Asbestos was a popular building material in the 1950s, and was used for decades until it was linked to serious health issues such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Today, environmental offices across Australia are encouraging homeowners to have their homes checked for asbestos or asbestos-containing materials. In some areas, as many as one in three homes are believed to contain asbestos in some form, although commercial buildings, being generally older, are more likely to have been built with asbestos. This is especially true in smaller communities where buildings tend to be older. The cutoff varies from region to region, but in Australia, homes built before 1990 are considered likely to be contaminated and should be inspected.
This does not mean, however, that busier areas such as Sydney are completely asbestos-free. Many older homes may still contain traces of the material, whether in walls, flooring, or even countertops, with amounts varying from negligible to dangerously high. Residential asbestos removal in Sydney NSW is therefore highly recommended, especially for buyers moving into previously owned homes.
The first step in residential asbestos removal is to have your home inspected. Asbestos seldom occurs naturally—it is mixed with other materials such as cement. This makes it hard to detect the material without specialized equipment. Laboratories accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) can take samples of building materials in your home and check them for asbestos fibres. You can also have inspectors come over and do an in-person audit. In any case, the lab will let you know if there are any traces of asbestos, and if so, whether it’s a safe level or should be removed. The service typically costs $30 to $50.
Because asbestos is mostly used for insulation and fire-proofing, contaminated materials are usually found in wall insulation layers, sprayed coating on pipes, columns, and bars, and ceiling and floor panels. Some vinyl floor tiles may also contain asbestos. Countertops with decorative textures sometimes are sometimes made with asbestos as well, but since the fibres are well secured in the material, they do not get released easily. Nevertheless, homeowners should be made aware of any asbestos-containing material in their homes so that they can handle it with proper care.
In most cases, asbestos-containing materials do not have to be removed from homes because the levels are too low to be dangerous. However, if you are making renovations that require you to break down walls or expose piping, any asbestos fibres in the existing material can be released and inhaled. This is why you should look into residential asbestos removal in Sydney NSW if you are planning any changes, preferably before you get started so you can get tips on eliminating the risks.