Why was Asbestos so Popular?

Now days the dangers of asbestos are common knowledge and so we tend to ask ourselves, Why was this material ever used to create our schools, businesses, homes and pipes? The answer is that asbestos was used for a variety of things for a variety of reasons from affordability to ease of access.

There are six different types of asbestos:

 

  • Chrysotile (white asbestos)
  • Amosite (brown or grey asbestos)
  • Crocidolite (blue asbestos)
  • Tremolite
  • Actinolite
  • Anthophylite

These different types of asbestos can also be put into two groups; friable and non-friable. Friable asbestos is more easily broken and prone to being released into the air that we breath, friable asbestos was common in insulation before its ban. Non-friable asbestos however is asbestos that is mixed with another material, such as cement, this type of asbestos is less likely to become airborne as it is more confined but can still become airborne when broken or damaged.

The Damage

When asbestos fibres are inhaled they can stick to the inside of the lung and aggravate lung tissues, which cause them to then scar. This condition is referred to as Asbestosis, symptoms of Asbestosis include shortness of breath and a dry crackling sound from the lungs while inhaling. In its advanced stages Asbestosis can cause cardiac arrest. Asbestos Fibres in the lungs can also cause Mesothelioma and Lung cancer, all three of these conditions are chronic and often deadly. The first documented asbestos related death was in 1906.

http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/asbestos/general/health-effects.htm#mesothelioma

So why was Asbestos Used?

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral fibre that occurs naturally and is easy to mine and transport, it was highly popular as a building material because of its strength, flexibility, affordability, endurance to heat and cold and it’s insulating ability.  The health concerns of asbestos were not known until the 20th century when in 1899, Dr. Montague Murray noted the negative health effects of asbestos, noting that miners working in asbestos mines and people living in asbestos mining towns were dying prematurally and from lung related diseases. Public outcry caused many courts to ban or put heavy regulations on asbestos, however it was not fully banned in building in Australia until the late 80’s for blue and brown asbestos and 2013 for white asbestos. The ban however could not however take back the deaths or sickness that had already occurred in a large portion of people exposed to the asbestos, it also couldn’t remove all of the asbestos in homes, school, businesses and pipes because of the vast quantity, cost and dangers. Up until the mid 1980’s, Australia had one of the highest rates of asbestos per person in the whole world, over one million tonnes of asbestos was imported to Australia from 1930-1983.

Fixing the Problem

Many businesses have popped up over the years to help combat Australia’s asbestos problem with a variety of costs and solutions including:

  • Removal; Removing the asbestos and disposing of it within the current regulations
  • Enclosure; enclosing the asbestos in a airtight seal to stop contamination and inhaling of the fibres
  • Encapsulation; sealing the asbestos in place so it doesn’t become airborne

The costs of asbestos removal varies depending on the location and amount of asbestos but can range from $1,500-$30,000.

Many companies offer both testing and removal options and will come to you at your convenience, such as Asbestos Testing Sydney (3 Actionable Ways To Be Safe With Asbestos)and Asbestos Removal Sydney.

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