Asbestos is the common term used to describe naturally occuring fibrous material which was widely mined from several types of mineral rock. Asbestos was used in a variety of everyday products such as asbestos-cement sheet, prefabricated walls, corrugated roofing sections, roof tiles, water pipes, tanks, household goods like garden furniture, flower pots, heat resistant clothing for foundry workers & firemen, automotive parts, battery cases, electrical insulation, heaters, ovens, toasters, hairdryers and polyvinyl chloride floor tiles.

There are two major groups of asbestos – the amphibole group, which includes blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos and the serpentine group, which includes white asbestos (chrysotile). All asbestos types are classified as carcinogenic (cancer causing) and prolonged exposure to high concentrations of asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

White (chrysotile) asbestos is the most common type of asbestos used in the construction of cement based building materials in Australia.

Asbestos fibres were widely used in the past because of their robust chemical and physical properties.

Asbestos fibres give protection against fire, corrosion, cold, acids, alkalis, electricity, noise, energy loss, vibration, salt water, frost, dust and vermin. Asbestos also has excellent friction and wear resistance and has been extensively used in brake lining and clutch facings in the automotive industry.

There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres.

Inhalation of asbestos fibres may lead to scarring of the lung tissue, a condition known as asbestosis; in severe form it causes shortness of breath and pleural plaques, malignancy of the lung, or bronchial cancer. Mesothelioma is a rare related disease which was exclusively identified with asbestos exposure, but is also known to have other origins. At the present time there are no known cures for asbestos related illness.

The period from exposure to asbestos to the onset of the disease varies between 20 to 50 years. While cases contracted before the ban on asbestos was introduced may still be diagnosed into the next century. Current Australian Safety & Compensation Council regulations are designed to reduce the risk of exposure to asbestos so long as everybody abides by them. Scientists believe that asbestos related disease will disappear altogether as a result of the safety measures being taken at present.

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West Coast Asbestos Specialists for more information or to request a no-obligation
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