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Wednesday, December 12

How Do I Tell If There Is Asbestos In My Home?

Your home could potentially be hiding a killer – one that doesn't discriminate when it comes to age or gender.  Asbestos was a commonly used building material from the 1940’s to the late 1980’s, due to its incredible properties of being strong, flexible, insulating and chemically inert. However discoveries were made which quickly led to a nation-wide ban of asbestos, though in many cases, the damage had already been done. Luckily, homes built after 2003 are free of this dangerous material.

Asbestos fibres can be 50 to 200 times finer than a human hair, and have the ability to remain suspended in the air for an extended period of time. This coupled with the fact that the individual fibres are invisible to the naked eye mean that it is very easy for the fibres to be inhaled into the lungs. The fibres pierce the delicate tissue, and will remain lodged here for life. 

This can cause numerous defects and diseases, such as lung cancer, pleural plaques, asbestosis, cancer of the intestinal tract and mesothelioma. While many people develop health problems after prolonged exposure to asbestos, even a single encounter can be enough to trigger the growth of abnormal or cancerous cells in some individuals.

Many houses built before the late 1980’s contain asbestos in some of the building materials, including roof shingles, old floor tiles, insulation, pipe cement, paints, ceiling tiles, and joint compound used to deal seams between sheet-rock. Nowadays, products such as plastic coated galvanised steel are a safe and modern alternative to old materials containing asbestos.

The greatest risk of asbestos exposure occurs when you are planning to renovate or remodel your home. Unfortunately, it can be almost impossible to detect unless the materials are labelled, so always treat unknown building materials with the utmost caution. It is highly recommended that you hire a professional who is trained and accredited in asbestos detection and removal before you consider undertaking any major structural work to your home. This is also recommended for families who simply want the peace of mind of knowing that their home is truly safe.
You can also send samples of any suspicious materials to a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory, though this is not recommended unless you are wearing appropriate protective equipment while handling the potentially harmful product.

The bottom line is that asbestos is almost impossible to identify, and could be located anywhere throughout your home. The only way to be sure that your home is safe is to either send suspicious samples to a NATA laboratory, or to book a professional to inspect the premises. 

The best way to ensure that you and your family are safe from asbestos is to be well-informed and vigilant, particularly if you are planning any extension or remodelling of your home. Don’t take any chances with this potentially deadly material. Always think twice, and seek professional advice when dealing with anything that could contain asbestos.

Matthew Woodridge is a qualified tradesmen operating in Brisbane, Australia. His expertise and professional service has delivered him great success since he established his company many years ago. Matthew sources resources from numerous organisations and has maintained a strong relationship with Metro Steel since establishment.
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