Domestic building materials containing asbestos haven’t been used since the late 1980s and were entirely banned in 2003. However, if you’re renovating a home that was built before 1990, then the chances of discovering asbestos are quite high. Home renovation is one of the leading ways that you can be exposed to this dangerous substance. But how do you know if your home is riddled with asbestos?
Older Brisbane homes tend to have some form of asbestos building product present, such as asbestos cement sheeting. But it’s not that easy to identify asbestos just by looking at it. Here are some typical places in your home that asbestos might be found:
Asbestos cement roof sheeting and guttering is still quite common in homes throughout Australia. If you have a pre-1990 Queensland home there is a decent chance this is the case. It can also be found as part of roof ridge capping or as lining under eaves. You’re typically not in risk, but never attempt to disturb your roof yourself. Always call an expert roofing company instead.
Bathrooms, Toilets and Laundries
Asbestos cement sheeting was commonly installed in walls, ceilings and floors in bathrooms, toilets and laundries. As it was used as an insulator, it may be found as lagging fitted around hot water pipes to keep the heat from escaping.
Asbestos might be found in living areas of your home, appearing most likely as an insulator in wood heaters and as cement sheeting beneath heater hearths. Ceiling tiles, wall linings and partitions are also common places to use asbestos for fire protection, heat and sound insulation.
Asbestos could be lurking under old vinyl floor tiles as a cushion backing, and around hot water pipes set into masonry walls.
The exterior walls of your home could be harbouring asbestos; flat, patterned and corrugated walls are likely suspects, as is brick cladding. It may also have been used as roof sheeting and as a lining under the eaves. Electrical metre boards may also contain small amounts of asbestos as an insulator.
Even your backyard is not safe from asbestos, with garden sheds, garages and carports potentially containing asbestos cement sheeting.
The most dangerous form of asbestos is loosely-bound (friable) asbestos. This contains 100% asbestos and is very loose, turning to dust with just a light pressure. If the fibres are breathed into the lungs, it can cause all kinds of asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos in hard form (tightly-bound) is less dangerous but can still contain up to 40% asbestos and is a hazard if damaged.
The only way you can be entirely sure that your home has asbestos is to have a sample analysed by a laboratory. If you’re planning on renovating and think your home may have asbestos, get in touch with the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) for the details of an analytical laboratory in your area. This will give you peace of mind about the renovation being carried out.