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Welcome to Asbestos Watch Perth

Do you need information about asbestos materials?

Presented here are a broad range of resources, links, and information for the safe and secure handling of asbestos-containing material in the greater Perth region.

Table of contents:

  1. What is asbestos?
  2. Types of asbestos
  3. Why is asbestos dangerous?
  4. Asbestos cases in Western Australia
  5. Asbestos problems in the Greater Perth Region
  6. Commercial asbestos materials
  7. Where you can find asbestos in your property?
  8. Asbestos regulations in Perth
  9. What should I do if I discover asbestos in my property?
  10. Transfer stations and Authorized Asbestos Landfill in Perth
  11. Who do I contact for further information regarding asbestos in Perth?

 

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is the generic name for fibre silicate minerals that occurred naturally in the environment. These minerals consist of tiny, versatile, and durable fibers which in demand for many years due to its versatility and advantage. Asbestos fibers are known for its tensile strength, heat, water and chemical resistance, insulating properties, and its strength under tension. Due to these reasons, asbestos fiber was largely used in building construction materials and approximately in 3.000 commercial products.

The utilization of asbestos materials starts from floor tiles, roofing shingles, ceiling materials, cement compounds, textile products, to automotive parts. Due to many desirable abilities of asbestos fibers, this material then largely manufactured and mined in Australia. As a result of extensive application and utilization of asbestos fibers, many residential and commercial buildings used fibrous materials in their construction parts.

 

Types of asbestos

Asbestos consists of different kinds of fibrous substance that were broadly used in a significant number of products.

They are:

  1. Chrysotile,
  2. Amosite,
  3. Crocidolite,
  4. Tremolite,
  5. Anthophyllite,
  6. Actinolite

Commercial products containing asbestos divide into two types. They are;

1. Friable type

This is the kind of asbestos that is easy to break or crumble. It contains high levels of fibre substance. Due to the nature of its’ fiber, it is considered as a dangerous type of ACM. Once this material is damaged or disturbed, its tiny fiber will go airborne and pollute the surrounding environment, which poses a greater risk to our health.

Examples of friable asbestos-containing materials include:

  1. Sound proofing and insulation,
  2. Thermal lagging, such as pipe insulation,
  3. The backing of sheet vinyl,
  4. Linoleum floor coverings,
  5. The lining on hot water systems or some old domestic heaters, pipe lagging, and stoves

Only an A-class licensed asbestos removalist can remove or handle friable materials.

 

2. Non-friable (bonded) type

Bonded material is the kind of fiber element that is strongly bonded to another hardening material, like cement or resin binder. This kind of material holds approximately 15% of fiber element. Non-friable or bonded ACM is the type of ACM that poses a lower risk to our health and can’t go airborne easily.

Bonded material commonly used in these products:

  1. Flat (fibro),
  2. Water drainage and flue pipes,
  3. Corrugated or compressed asbestos-cement (A-C) sheeting,
  4. Textured paint,
  5. Vinyl flooring,
  6. Floor tiles.

An A-class and a B-class licensed removalist can remove and handle your bonded ACM.

 

 

Note: Therefore, before removing and handling any asbestos material, you must know which asbestos removal contractor you need to hire.

 

 

Why is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos is not generally harmful except when the material discharges dust or fibers into the air. This is where the fibers can be breathed or ingested. This is the most common way for fibers to enter our body. Once they are inside our body, the fibers can cause many health problems for human.

Mostly the fibers are trapped in mucous membranes of our nose and throat. Our natural defense mechanism may expel the fibers, but some of it is still able to reach deep into our lungs, or, if it’s ingested, into the digestive tract.

For that reason, you must be aware of the presence of asbestos-containing materials in your property. You must monitor and check the condition of asbestos materials regularly. You need to examine whether the materials are in good condition or not. If they are not in good condition or are damaged, you should take further action and remove them from your property. A damaged or a broken product that contains asbestos is likely to discharge dangerous fibres to the surrounding environment.

 


Due to the largest utilization of asbestos fibers in the past, Australia is one of many countries that has the longest mesothelioma cases in the world [1].

In 2013, 706 new cases of mesothelioma were identified in Australia, and there were 692 deaths caused by mesothelioma in 2014. [2]

According to Safe Work Australia based on the report of Mesothelioma Incidence in Australia stated that the trend in deaths from mesothelioma continues to increase. [3]

Link report:

http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/about/publications/pages/mesothelioma-in-australia-2015


 

Asbestos cases in Western Australia

According to the Australian Mesothelioma Registry, in 2012, the rate of mesothelioma in Australia was 2.4 per 100,000 [4]. It means, for every 100,000 people, you would expect to see 2.4 cases of mesothelioma in that year [5]

67 percent of mesothelioma cases affecting Indigenous West Australians, this is based on the study that is conducted by the University of Western Australia. This condition could be associated with asbestos mining at the Wittenoom Gorge in the Pilbara. [6]

 

Mesothelioma in Western Australia

Number of mesothelioma cases in Western Australia 2011-2014 [7]

Incidence Mortality
Male Female Total Male Female Total
2000 45 7 52 56 5 61
2001 62 14 76 55 10 65
2002 65 6 71 61 10 71
2003 56 13 69 58 8 66
2004 60 12 72 54 8 62
2005 75 14 89 60 11 71
2006 65 10 75 58 14 72
2007 67 15 82 71 12 83
2008 88 16 104 72 23 95
2009 81 14 95 79 11 90
2010 84 13 97 71 13 84
2011 90 12 102 85 8 93
2012 88 21 109 59 13 72
2013 80 14 94 102 16 118
2014 83 18 101 76 16 92

*Total number of cases recorded by the Cancer Registry in one year

Further detail on the cancer cases, visit the Cancer Registry website at http://www.health.wa.gov.au/wacr/

 

Asbestos problems in the Greater Perth Region

1. Asbestos Roof and Extreme Weather in Perth region

Extreme weather conditions can cause damages to your house, particularly your roofing materials. This is a warning of how extreme weather conditions are able to cast the roof above your head and jeopardize the health of your family and yourself. Due to this reason, you are susceptible to asbestos roof damages during a severe storm or any other extreme weather condition.

Asbestos discovery sparks road closure after roof collapses in Perth:

http://www.9news.com.au/wild-weather/2016/09/08/11/07/asbestos-discovery-sparks-road-closure-after-roof-collapses-in-perth

 

2. Asbestos contamination & Utilization of Imported Asbestos

Fears over asbestos imports spark call for better border controls for building products

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-18/perth-asbestos-find-sparks-imported-building-products-call/7636922

 

“Asbestos found in $1.2b Perth Children’s Hospital, says WA Health Minister”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-14/asbestos-found-in-perth-childrens-hospital-roof-panels/7628108

 

3. Asbestos Mine

There is a history of creation, production and extensive utilization of asbestos materials in Western Australia. Crocidolite asbestos is one of asbestos types that primarily employed in asbestos-cement products. This fiber substance was largely mined at Wittenoom.

Due to this widespread utilization of crocidolite asbestos, Western Australia becomes one of the regions with high asbestos contamination.

 

The Devastating Asbestos Legacy of Wittenoom, Australia

https://www.asbestos.com/blog/2013/05/24/asbestos-town-wittenoom-australia-hundreds-affected/

 

Further information on history of asbestos in Wittenoom

http://www.australianasbestosnetwork.org.au/asbestos-history/asbestos-wittenoom/

http://www.asbestosdiseases.org.au/the-wittenoom-tragedy.html

 

Commercial asbestos materials

Asbestos was processed and combined with substances to produce and generate various products.

  • Asbestos-cement products & sheet materials
  • Construction Mastics (carpet, floor and ceiling tile, etc)
  • Insulation: Block insulation, pipe insulation, spray-applied insulation, corrugated air-cell, blown-in insulation, breaching insulation, thermal paper products, boiler insulation, electrical wiring insulation.
  • Textile and Cloth Products: Protective cloth coverings, asbestos gloves, threads, cords, yarns, and braids.
  • Fireproofing / Acoustical texture products: Acoustical plaster, fire blankets, fire doors, decorative plaster, fire curtains, textured paint or coatings.
  • Gaskets: High-Temperature Gaskets, high-pressure packing, packing for industrial products, packing materials (for wall/floor penetrations).
  • Cement products: Cement pipes, cement wallboard, cement siding, tiles; vinyl floor, asphalt floor tile, flooring backing, vinyl wall coverings, vinyl sheet flooring, ceiling tiles, roofing; roofing felt, roofing shingles, roll roofing; base flashing, roof patching cement, wallboard.

 

Where you can find asbestos in your property?

According to Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, a third of all houses in Australia contain dangerous asbestos materials; starts from residential, commercial buildings to government properties. The most frequent product used in residential properties is asbestos cement.

Up till the 1960s, 25% of all new housing was clad in asbestos cement in Australia [Leigh J. et al. 2002, Malignant Mesothelioma in Australia, 1945-2000]

If you live in Perth area, it is important to check the presence of asbestos fibers. Whether it’s in your house, building, or property.

 

 

Asbestos Regulations in Perth

Asbestos is regulated by some organizations and agencies (WorkSafe, Department of Environment Regulation and Department of Health).

1. Maintenance, removal, and renovations of asbestos materials

Concerning those activities above, homeowners are encouraged to take precautions for to safely handle asbestos materials.

Further information on how to manage asbestos material safely;

http://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Asbestos-cement-products-in-your-home

 

2. Finding the right asbestos license holder to remove your asbestos materials

 Further information on how to find the right asbestos contractor;

https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/finding-and-selecting-asbestos-licence-holder

 

If you need advice on how to safely remove asbestos from your property, you may reach your local government here;

http://walga.asn.au/About-Local-Government/Online-Local-Government-Directory.aspx

 

If you need enquiries regarding asbestos you may visit the Department of Health website, or you can call the Environmental Health Directorate on 9388 4999. http://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/About-asbestos

 

If you live in Perth region, here are some guidelines and Frequently Ask Questions (FAQs) on how to remove asbestos safely from your property:

https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/asbestos-frequently-asked-questions

 

 

What should I do if I discover asbestos in my property?

Do not disturb any of asbestos materials that you find or discover in your house!

As has been said, a material containing asbestos is a risk if it’s broken or damaged or in condition, which it may discharges tiny fibers. But, if the material in your house or property is in good shape and condition, you can leave it undisturbed, but keep in mind to regularly check and monitor the ACM’s condition.

If you are going to remove the ACM out from your property, there are some points that you need to consider:

  1. Are you capable of handling and removing the material yourself?
  2. Can you comply with the entire requirement to manage or remove the substance safely?
  3. Do you have all the equipment, knowledge, experience, and skill to work with the material yourself?
  4. Will you require professional support?
  5. What is the law and regulations about removing hazardous asbestos substances in your area?

 

Further information on how to remove asbestos safely according to SafeWork WA;

https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/asbestos-information-asbestos-workplace

 

Transfer stations and Authorized Asbestos Landfill in Perth

Western Australia,

https://www.der.wa.gov.au/images/documents/your-environment/contaminated-sites/controlled-waste-info-sheet_asbestos.pdf

 

Who do I contact for further information regarding asbestos in Perth?

 Local government:

www.dlgc.wa.gov.au

 

Worksafe WA:

Asbestos issues in a workplace or related to work

www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/

 

EPA:

Issues related to asbestos contamination & disposal

www.epa.wa.gov.au

 

Health:

Public Health Issue  www.health.wa.gov.au

 

Emergency:

http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/aboutus/operationalinformation/Pages/stateemergencyservice.aspx

 

Reference:

[1] https://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/australia/

[2] http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/mesothelioma.html)

[3] https://www.asbestossafety.gov.au/article/new-statistics-show-mesothelioma-rates-still-rising)

[4] Australian Mesothelioma Registry 2013. 2nd Annual Report Mesothelioma in Australia 2012. New South Wales: Cancer Institute NSW

[5] http://asbestosresearch.org.au/?page_id=2953

[6] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-06/indigenous-west-australians-highest-mesothelioma-rate-study/7575240

[7] https://www.cancerwa.asn.au/resources/2016-05-18-Mesothelioma-2014-FINAL.pdf