Tuesday, 16 November 2010 10:53
The vast number of demolitions and renovations being carried out in suburbs across Australia as older homes are knocked down has prompted a warning by Archicentre in relation to the dangers of asbestos to neighbours and renovators.
|Asbestos cement sheets being removed from a |
property prior to renovation.
The warning comes in the lead up to Christmas when many people decide on unplanned renovations and decide to pull down old sheds during the holidays, or conduct maintenance on the beach shack.
David Hallett, Archicentre spokesperson said it is vital to take appropriate health and safety precautions during any renovation, maintenance or demolition where asbestos is concerned and people next to demolition sites should ask their council to see the asbestos removal plan.
"Large numbers of houses throughout Australia have been constructed using asbestos-cement products as internal and external walls, ceilings and roofing, especially in holiday coastal areas where building a beach shack was a national pastime".
"Asbestos was used in flat sheet fibro cement building products up to 1982 and in corrugated fibro-cement roofing material up to 1986 because of its cheapness and ease of installation."
Archicentre conducts over 20,000 pre-purchase house inspections and renovation design concepts each year and is aware of the wide scale presence of asbestos in residential properties.
Mr. Hallett said Archicentre's inspections indicated the presence of asbestos cement sheets in the eaves of many houses and behind wall and ceiling tiles, as well as the commonly known areas of wall linings and roofing. Older garden sheds are often made entirely of asbestos cement sheeting.
"The real risk of exposure to asbestos fibres and dust occurs with the demolition of walls or roofs, during renovation of a property, and drilling or cutting of products containing asbestos".
"Our real concern is that with the increase of DIY renovations, people may not recognise the extreme health risks involved for home owners and their families of the diseases which can be caused by asbestos dust.
"These include asbestosis (a progressive, fibrotic lung disease causing increasing breathlessness), lung cancer and mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer affecting the lining of the chest cavity and the covering of the lungs or, less often, the lining of the abdominal cavity and the covering of abdominal organs).
Asbestos material being wrapped in plastic and taped securely before being placed in the plastic lined bin for disposal by the licensed contractors.
"These diseases can occur many years after the exposure to asbestos dust has ceased, but the likelihood of a person contracting an asbestos-related disease increases as the intensity and duration of the exposure increases."
Mr. Hallett said that provided asbestos-cement products used in the construction of houses are not being disturbed the health of the occupants of the house is not at risk. If the asbestos sheeting is in good condition, it can be painted so as to limit the breakdown of the surface and release of fibres.
"Asbestos sheeting should always be removed by a specialist licensed contractor who will also arrange for its disposal in a landfill registered to take asbestos materials."
Ron Smith, Corporate Media Communications, Archicentre Mobile: 0417 329 201