What Does Asbestos in Australia Mean to Us
Australia ranks as the second-highest mesothelioma-affected country in the world, trailing just a bit behind the UK. This disease is a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to a mineral-based substance called asbestos. Around ten thousand Australians have died due to mesothelioma since the 1980s. Even more alarming are the latest studies that reveal that an additional 25,000 Australians are likely to succumb to this cancer over the next forty years.
A study conducted in 2021 quoted The Australian Faculty of Occupational Medicine’s guide on Occupational Cancer, revealing that almost every case of this rare cancer was caused by asbestos levels near background levels found in the country’s urban areas.
Causes of Asbestos Triggered Cancer in Australia
The country’s high incidence of asbestos exposure corresponds with Australia’s widespread history of asbestos usage. Government numbers reveal that Australia had the world’s highest per-capita asbestos usage rate from 1950 to the 1970s. The usage continued long after asbestos was completely prohibited in other parts of the world. For instance, asbestos was heavily employed well into the late 1980s for the manufacturing of construction materials like cement boards.
Types of Commonly Used Asbestos and its Usage
Two basic forms of Asbestos are widely employed in Australia. The more commonly used, tightly bonded asbestos is the more hazardous one of the two. A single fibro sheet may have as much as 20% asbestos mineral fibres. The main function of this substance is fire protection in industrial and residential sectors, and the bounded fibres are often applied to pipes, columns, and heaters. The second form, loosely bound asbestos, is heavily used for insulation and as an adhesive in different forms of industrial and residential flooring. For this purpose, asbestos is made into a soft, pliable fibre that is later worked into adhesives such as tile cement. Research studies reveal that asbestos was used in more than 3000 products in Australia, while the construction and vehicle industries were among the major users.
Asbestos Exposure Still a Serious Problem
In 2003, the country imposed a strict ban on the asbestos import, manufacturing, use or re-use. However, despite the ban, many Australians are still at risk of becoming a victim of mesothelioma as a great number of houses and commercial buildings constructed or refurbished before the 90s still contain asbestos products like asbestos based paint insulation and cement. Demolition, renovation or alteration of all the older structures constructed before the asbestos ban is extremely hazardous as the construction workers, as well as the residents of these structures, may get exposed to asbestos fibres. The fibres are suspended in the air even from old, crumbling asbestos-based paint or floor cement.
One can’t tell merely by looking if the parts in your car or any construction materials in your home or office contain asbestos. The only means to curb the risk is to check the history of your building or car for build dates. And if you are unsure, hire the services of a licensed asbestos removal company to perform tests of your property for the presence of asbestos.
There are numerous asbestos removal companies, especially in Melbourne, that can not only test and trace but can also safely remove asbestos from your property. Though hiring the services of a licensed asbestos remover is not mandatory in Melbourne, however considering the dangerous nature of the material and the complicated removal process, it is highly recommended to hire a reputable licensed company like Asbestos Removed for the job.