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Asbestos is banned in many countries because of its adverse effects on humans and the environment. It was one of the most common building materials in the 1950s until its adverse effects became more pronounced, leading to its ban. The Australian Government has banned asbestos since December 2003. Exporting, importing and all goods containing asbestos are prohibited throughout Australia. The asbestos ban in Australia is due to the many problems it causes to humans. This article looks at some of the factors that contributed to the ban of asbestos in Australia.

When are Asbestos Products Dangerous?

Asbestos becomes dangerous when the dust or the fibres get released into the atmosphere. Asbestos fibres enter the human body through breathing. When the material is disturbed, it gets into the air where the fibre is ingested or inhaled. The fibres get trapped in the mucous membrane of the throat and nose. If the fibres are not removed, they go into your lungs or get swallowed into your digestive system. Once in your body, asbestos fibres cause different health issues.

What Makes Asbestos Riskier?

Asbestos is more dangerous when friable. Friable asbestos can easily crumble by hand, making it easy to release the fibres into the air. Thus, sprayed asbestos insulation is more friable than asbestos floor tile. Building materials containing asbestos such as shingles, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, vinyl flooring, siding shingles, and others do not release fibres into the air unless they get damaged or disturbed. For instance, if the asbestos ceiling tile gets broken or drilled, it releases fibres into the air, but if left alone, it does not.

Deterioration and damage make asbestos products more friable. Other factors that make asbestos riskier include cutting, drilling, striking, sawing, and others that break the material down.

Health Problems Associated with Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos was banned within the Australian border because of its severe health effects. Your body cannot break the fibres down or get rid of them once trapped in the body tissues or lungs. The fibres remain in place, leading to asbestos-related diseases including:


Asbestosis is a severe and chronic cancerous respiratory disease. When asbestos fibres are inhaled, they aggravate the lung tissue. This makes the lungs scar. Some of the symptoms of this disease include a cracking sound when inhaling and breath shortness. When asbestosis gets severe, it can lead to cardiac failure. The disease is fatal and disabling. This condition is rare to those who do not work directly with building materials containing asbestos. It is common to those who do a renovation or demolish structures with asbestos.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the major cause of deaths caused by asbestos materials. Manufacturing, milling, mining, and using asbestos increase exposure to the fibres that cause lung cancer. Some of the common symptoms of lung cancer include a change in breathing and coughing. Other symptoms include hoarseness, breath shortness, anemia, and persistent chest pains.


It is a rare form of cancer that affects the thin membrane linings of your lungs, abdomen, and chest. Almost all cases of mesothelioma are associated with asbestos materials exposure. People working in asbestos mills, asbestos installations, and those who work with asbestos cement materials are at a high risk of mesothelioma.

Other Asbestos-Related Cancers

Other cancers associated with asbestos building materials in the home include the kidney, esophagus, stomach, larynx, kidney, and colon cancers.

Who is at Risk of Asbestos-Related Diseases?

Everyone can get affected by asbestos exposure. Regardless of your age, you may also get the above asbestos-related diseases. If you get exposed to asbestos regularly, you are at a higher risk of getting sick. Thus, it is always good to take the right action whenever you note the presence of asbestos in your commercial or residential property in Australia.

The risk of getting one of the asbestos diseases is determined by various factors. Here are some of these factors:

Duration and Level of Exposure

The more you are exposed to asbestos products, the higher your risk of developing one of the listed asbestos diseases. With increased exposure, more fibres get into your body, leading to increased risks. Although there are no safe levels of exposure, if you get exposed for a long time, you put yourself at high risk of getting one of these diseases. This is why you should have asbestos removed immediately you notice its signs in your building.


If you smoke and get exposed to asbestos fibres, you are highly likely to develop one of the types of cancers mentioned above. In case you get exposed to asbestos, you should stop smoking immediately. If you continue smoking, the symptoms of the disease get worse.

Source of Asbestos Exposure

The source of the asbestos and how they get spread also determines the risk levels. Asbestos from natural sites, asbestos cement material, or other building materials is more problematic. Fibres resulting from HVAC forces can lead to the constant flow of asbestos fibres in the air. This increases the chances of you inhaling asbestos in your home.

What Should You Do if You Find Asbestos in Your Home?

Since asbestos has been banned in Australia, you should ensure that your property is free from the material. There are many consequences if building authorities realise that your building has asbestos. If you suspect that your home has asbestos, you should regularly inspect for water damage, abrasions, and tears.

If you find slightly damaged materials, you should never disturb the area or touch them. If you disturb the material, it may lead to the dispersion of dust or asbestos fibres. Inhaling the fibres can lead to the many health problems mentioned above. So, what should you do if you suspect your home may have asbestos material?

Call an Asbestos Inspector

Before you can call a company for safe removal, it is good to do an inspection. You need to call a professional asbestos inspector to inspect the affected area and help in removing and disposing of the material. A high-level assessment is done. It includes a visual examination, a thorough collection and analysis of samples are done during the inspection. The analysis should be done in accredited laboratories to get accurate results.

If there is asbestos, you should get a written report showing where the material is located and the amount. The report also gives recommendations for the right actions to take. Your asbestos inspector also carries out an assessment after the removal to ensure that your home is free of asbestos. With the report in hand, you can now call an asbestos removal company to get rid of the material.

Hire an Asbestos Removalist

A professional asbestos company can safely remove the material without compromising safety in your home. The professionals are equipped with proper protective equipment and have the right qualifications and training on how to get rid of asbestos. It is important to note that you can only prove your home is free of asbestos if you show a report from an accredited asbestos removalist. After the removal process, you enjoy peace of mind because you now have a home that does not have asbestos, a material that is totally banned in Australia.


The ban on asbestos in Australia is meant to protect the general public against all asbestos-related diseases. Thus, it is paramount to ensure that your property is free from materials containing asbestos. As you can see, exposure to asbestos poses severe health risks to you. Note that it may take several years for the symptoms to arise. So, it is good to avoid any form of asbestos exposure.

If you are uncertain about the presence of asbestos material in your residence, hire an accredited asbestos company to inspect and remove the material to completion. Make sure you hire removalists equipped with knowledge and skills to work with all types of asbestos. It helps you avoid fines and penalties from the Australian authorities that you will have to pay if your property has asbestos.

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