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Common types of asbestos in Australia

Australia has been faced with an asbestos burden for decades. Between the 1940s and 1990s, Australia’s mining and use of various types of asbestos was some of the highest in the world per capita.

The prevalent use of residential asbestos throughout 1945 to 1960 has meant that as more homeowners renovate, fix or demolish older homes, more people are unknowingly being exposed to the fibers.

Now, Australia has one of the largest prevalence of mesothelioma – a malignant tumor of the lungs, abdomen or heart caused by inhaling asbestos fibers – in the world. This disease, as well as other asbestos-related diseases, takes over 4,000 lives per year in Australia.

Though asbestos has not been used in building materials and products since the 1980s and was completely banned in 2003, Australia still faces challenges related to asbestos. The nation is now faced with increased and persistent demand for awareness and safe asbestos removal services.

Here are the most common types of asbestos in Australia that you need to be aware of when looking to renovate, fix or demolish your home.

Chrysotile asbestos

The most common asbestos in Australia is chrysotile, which comprises more than 50 per cent of all types of asbestos used. It was used for both domestic and industrial application – most prominently in corrugated cement sheeting.

Under the microscope, chrysotile asbestos appears as tiny white fibers that are curled on the end. These white fibers are extremely flexible and are easily spun or woven into other fabrics and materials. Chrysotile is also heat resistant, acting as an excellent thermal, electrical and acoustic insulator.

Chrysotile asbestos fibers mix well with cement materials, carrying their properties over to the finished product. This is why chrysotile was the most common used asbestos type, used in applications such as:

  • Cement products
  • Brake Pads
  • Drywall
  • Insulation
  • Fireproofing

Amosite asbestos

Amosite asbestos is the second most common type of asbestos in Australia. The texture of amosite fibers is characterised as brownish-grey sharp, brittle and needle-like.

The asbestos is known to be particularly strong and heat resistant – possessing extreme insulation properties. Nonetheless, the small needle-like fibers can be inhaled easily and become lodged in the lungs, meaning this type of asbestos is one of the most hazardous.

Amosite asbestos was commonly used in construction cement products due to its qualities. Other products that the asbestos was used in are:

  • Fire Protection
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Cement Sheets
  • Roofing Materials

Crocidolite asbestos

Crocidolite is recognised as the most dangerous type of asbestos in Australia. It is responsible for more asbestos exposure-related deaths than any other type and was withdrawn much earlier than all other types of asbestos.

Crocidolite is resistant to strong acids, and consequently can be found in industrial facilities and usage, particularly pipe insulation, thermal insulation and rope lagging. Other common uses for crocidolite asbestos include:

  • Ceiling Tiles
  • Cement Sheets
  • Insulation
  • Fireproofing
  • Acid Storage Battery Casings

Australia is still faced with complications related to asbestos – even after a complete ban of asbestos in Australia almost 20 years ago. If you suspect that your property contains a type of asbestos, it is highly recommended that you get in contact with professionals to assess the site.

Townsville Demolitions holds the required licenses to remove all types of asbestos from any building. Call us today on (07) 4775 7148 to organise your free asbestos inspection.

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Call Townsville Demolitions on (07) 4775 7148 today, to organise your free asbestos inspection.

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