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A Brief History of Asbestos in Perth, WA

Asbestos Watch Perth is an asbestos removal Perth and testing endorsement company for professional contractors who provide complete services. In this article, we are going to discuss the brief history of fibrous material in Perth and what can you do to tackle this problem.

Fibre material was discovered as an indestructible material centuries ago. Due to the length and flexibility of its fibres, it became incorporated into manufacturing products, such as brake pads, fabric, gaskets and paper. It blocked heat transfer because it is fireproof and it, therefore, represented the ideal insulation material. In both its fabric and compacted-brick forms, it was used to cover heating systems and kilns.

A fibrous mineral occurs naturally. Therefore, it was simply mined and not manufactured. Just like in many other states, it is present in vast natural deposits in Western Australia. In 1936, blue fibre (crocidolite) deposits were discovered in Wittenoom by Lang Hancock. These materials are easily available for construction and industrial uses. Its low cost of production as a truly raw material made Australian manufacturers go ballistic.

fibrous material ACM Infographic

Driven by greed, manufacturers and other key players convinced the masses that fibrous material was a cutting-edge technology with a thousand and one uses.  For this reason, businesses quickly commercialized asbestos-containing material (ACM), even in unusual ways.

Asbestos incidents in Western Australia

The need for ACMs in Western Australia was insatiable and so other manufactured products such as cement, rope and fabric, joint putty, friction materials and gaskets were imported. You can now see the magnitude of ACMs use in Western Australia bearing in mind that we also had mines that operated non-stop.

Recently, fibrous materials were discovered in roofing panels of at least 10 buildings in Western Australia. The new Perth stadium, Fiona Stanley hospital, and Perth Children’s hospital are few private buildings that use asbestos-tainted gaskets sourced from China. As a consequent, construction workers are exposed to this dangerous fibre. The manufacturers claim specified materials being supplied are dangerous-substance-free and tested negative for fibrous materials. However, an audit revealed the test report had not actually confirmed the roofing panels for the presence of ACM.

Moreover, the Australian agency responsible for testing ACM at the border has since revealed that they only tested a fraction of shipments each year for this substance. They stated that is was impossible to guarantee that all imported materials did not contain fibrous materials.

These findings imply that detecting and preventing the presence of fibrous materials is still much needed in Western Australia.

Asbestos ban in Australia

However, the past decades has witnessed a drastic change in Australia’s patterns of ACMs use.  Regulatory and health issues, as opposed to engineering factors or rather direct economic issues now dominate its production and consumption. Australia now bans the use of ACMs and prohibits importation, manufacture, processing and distribution of ACMs.

But even with the ban, Australia is still recognized as having the worst record of asbestos-related diseases in the world due to the past use of ACMs. Wittenoom toll topped 500 in 1989 and the National Health and Medical Research Council predicted the final toll would be around 2000. Since records of ACM related-deaths sprang within the early 80s, the total number of lives lost to mesothelioma is simply overwhelming, and it is expected to rise in the next 40 years.

Figure 2. Mesothelioma cases in Australia from 1982-2011(Source : www.phrp.com.au)

Current Non-Occupational fibre Exposure

Exposure to an ACM in both outdoors and indoor environments may result from several sources, both natural and human-made.

Chrysotile material accounts for over 90-95% of the ACM in Australia.  This type of material has an ever-present toxin of ambient air. This is the reason why fibres are ever present in the lungs of people living in Australia.

Types of non-occupational fibre found in Australia

  • Natural sources of fibres exposures: Natural fibres are released into the atmosphere as a result of weathering and erosion of ACM rocks and road surfaces composed of ores.
  • Manufactured sources of fibres Exposure: Off-site releases from mining, milling, and manufacturing of ACM products seriously exposed residents in the neighboring communities. In addition to workers exposures, their families also suffered from secondhand fibres exposure. There were documented cases of diseases among workers family members. They mostly occurred in households where women were exposed while cleaning contaminated work clothing at home. There were also cases of children having been exposed while playing in areas where contaminated shoes and work clothing were located or where ACMs were stored.
  • Waste Disposal exposure: Waste disposal has become a growing source of potential exposure to airborne fibres. Apparently, there are no signs of ceasing as removal, abatement, and renovation continues to exist within the current building stock. Food sources, consumer products, and water supplies are increasingly getting contaminated with materials containing fibres now just like it was in the past.  The Good thing is that human-made sources of exposure are now being monitored and reduced by regulatory bodies.
  • Release of Fibres from ACM Surfaces: Currently, this is the number one source of non-occupational exposure.  The release of fibres from existing ACM surfaces in homes, schools, public buildings or from sprayed ACM fireproofing in high-rise office buildings is the leading cause of fibres-related ailments in Australia today. Future exposure will be determined by the amount of fibres released during routine repair, maintenance, and removal of these structures.

The peak use of ACMs in Australia was in 1983 when seven hundred tons were used mostly in putting up houses.  Today, approximately forty thousand tons of ACM waste continues to be generated each year.

Current Occupational fibres Exposure in Western Australia

Today, very limited information is available on the number of workers still exposed to airborne fibres in WA. All in all, there is a notable change in exposure patterns; a few ago it was chronic exposures, but today we are experiencing short-term intermittent exposure that only occurs during maintenance and remediation work.

Regulations in Perth WA

There are strict laws laid down for testing and dangerous material removal in Perth. The existing legislation states that managers of commercial properties and homeowners have the legal obligation to maintain strict safety standards. They are, therefore, responsible for maintaining and repairing their properties and make decisions related to the activities within the building premises. They are at the same time responsible for investigating the presence of an ACM at the property, creating and implementing a course of action for fibrous materials, including safe fibre material testing Perth from the premises.

The law prohibits some activities that are related to ACMs and also requires certain steps when working near or on ACMs. Serious penalties for hefty fines or conviction are imposed to anyone who does not comply. So if you suspect that you might have any ACMs anywhere within your property, the only way you can avoid both exposure and penalties is by hiring a professional (https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/).

Prompt and safe asbestos removal Perth by our endorsed contractors

No part of fibre removal in Perth should be undertaken by anyone except licensed removal companies. It is important to hire a professional company such as Asbestos Watch Perth so that any traces of ACMs are removed in accordance with the strict Australian law, without causing harm to human beings, animals, and the environment in general.

We are an endorsement company for professional contractors within the greater Perth region. Our approved contractors have thoroughly assessed to ascertain their ability in delivering satisfactory result for fibrous-material removal and testing in Perth. Our professional team can handle all of your problems by performing a prompt and safe removal and also testing in Perth.

Our endorsed contractors offer other services as follows

  • Asbestos removal – Removing fibrous materials in all area and locations
  • Asbestos testing – Conducting a test via an accredited lab before removal process
  • Asbestos roof removal – Removing and replacing roofing shingles within the building
  • Management plan – Including risk assessments and the implementation of control measure to identify whether removal project is necessary or not
  • Air monitoring – Before and after removal process
  • Demolition – Survey before a refurbishment or demolition
  • Soil remediation – Removing and testing ACMs within the soil
  • Consultant – Starting from inspection until deliverance of report
  • Emergency services – Fast response upon accidents such as storm and bushfires

No more problems if you contact our approved contractors today

If you suspect the presence of ACM within your building, get in touch with us today! We offer you professional ACM removal contractors for your commercial, residential and government properties in Western Australia. We are established as an endorsement company for contractors who provide excellent ACM-related services such as removal, testing, and management plan. Our team aims to deliver the best services to identify and remove ACMs within your premises, completely and safely in the fastest way.

Our contractors offer a broad range of services including roof removal, demolition, air monitoring, consultant, soil remediation, emergency services, removal, testing, and management plan Perth. When it comes to detecting and safely removing fibres, it is best to contact a professional contractor in Asbestos Watch Perth. All you need to do is contacting one of our approved contractors with a clear description of the problem. Our team of specialists will assess the condition and perform the work; prompt and quickly.

Trust us since our endorsed contractors put customer satisfaction, along with your health and safety, as our biggest priority.

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Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

It is not likely to indicate whether a material contains the hazardous substance or not by simply looking at it.

You only can certain about the presence of asbestos in your house by sending your material sample to the authorized laboratory.

A safe way to handle the material is by wiping up the area with a wet cloth or paper towel.

It will help lessen the fiber opportunity to go airborne. Remember to always wear protective equipment in the process.

It is highly recommended to contact an asbestos expert to help you within a safety process of the removal.

If the roofing material in your property is weathered, structurally unstable or no longer waterproof, then it should be renewed or replaced.

Contact a professional and licensed removalist to conduct a safe procedure.

The expense of the procedures will rely on some points, which are the size of the material and barriers at the work area.

The average cost is $50 per square meter. Contact a contractor to get the exact estimation for your ACMs.

Definitely not! The materials must be discarded to the authorized hazardous substance landfill within your area.

It is a dangerous action if you dispose of your hazardous waste not in the right place. The fiber material will contaminate the surrounding environment.

You are recommended to conduct a professional help if there are more than 10 square meters of bonded materials to be removed.

For the friable ACMs, any amount of the material should be removed by a licensed and qualified removalist.

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