Why are the risks of asbestos?

With modern-day building materials adhering to high safety specifications, asbestos and its related illnesses should be a thing of the past. However, asbestos was mined in Australia for over 100 years. It has been used to create insulation, corrugated roofing, asbestos cement sheeting and various other construction parts. For many years, there has been a progressive ban placed on its use in construction of any sort. In modern times, there are still many properties that have used asbestos in various parts of their construction. 

Many of the older properties also had asbestos roofing, water and sewage pipes and fencing. These are still present today and present a risk when buying property for business or residential use. An asbestos survey is important to give a buyer peace of mind and alert them to additional hidden expenses that may not be readily visible on a simple visual inspection. Companies that perform these pre-purchase asbestos building inspections can potentially save buyers from making an expensive mistake.

Asbestos can be in two forms as shown below:

  • Friable: Loose asbestos which can be easily dispersed into the air
  • Non-Friable: Asbestos combined with a bonding agent such as cement

Friable asbestos is the most dangerous material and needs to be identified by a professional to ensure safe removal. In older properties, this may look like dust on a floor that has been left for years undisturbed. Or perhaps it is behind a stove and not easily visible. These are very serious dangers to life and need to be inspected to ensure a safe living space. State and territory governments approve the assessors that provide a building or property inspection.

The local government keeps licences in a register to allow the public to verify any company working with asbestos assessment. This ensures they maintain a strict standard for asbestos risk and removal assessments. The need for these standards cannot be stressed highly enough.

In local housing, assessors found the biggest problem was with asbestos roofs. These are extremely expensive to replace. This risk alone more than justifies the cost of having an asbestos survey done. For peace of mind in any purchase, and to ensure the buyer is getting the right price, these surveys are critical on older buildings and properties.

Some residents have carried out their own asbestos removal once they identified it; however, with the risk of cancer of the lungs, pharynx and ovaries, asbestosis and several other potentially fatal illnesses it simply isn't worth the risk. Even in more modern suburbs, there is a danger of old fencing and underground pipes containing asbestos. Simply modernising an old fence or fixing a leaky pipe could be dangerous.

With the hazards associated with asbestos, it is better to avoid the problem in the first place and have a professional check the property thoroughly to ensure its safety. Pre-purchase asbestos surveys protect people's lives and give them peace of mind that they and their families will be safe for years to come.