Asbestos and Demolitions: What You Should Know

If you’re considering demolition on a property, then it’s important that asbestos checks be carried out. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, but can be extremely dangerous, and it comes in three forms; chrysolite, known as white asbestos, crocidolite, known as blue asbestos, and amosite known as brown or grey asbestos. The mineral was used in the construction of homes in Australia for decades, which is why asbestos testing is vital for homes of a certain age, as special demolition techniques need to be used if it is present. Here are some things to consider before arranging demolition.

Property age

The likelihood of asbestos being present in your property depends on the age. If your home was built:

  • Up to the mid-1980s – There’s a high chance asbestos is present
  • Mid-1980s to mid-1990s – Some asbestos is likely to be present
  • 1990 to 2003 – It’s unlikely asbestos was used, but possible
  • After 2003 – Asbestos was made illegal, so shouldn’t be present

Therefore, if your home was built before the 90s, then asbestos testing is important before a demolition.

Asbestos placement

Asbestos was mostly used in bonded concrete, but it can be found in a wide variety of places around the home. It can be found in your eaves or roof installation, water or flue pipes, sound proofing, carpet underlay, shingles and sidings, or even wall cladding. You can even find it outside your home in old fencing.

The dangers of asbestos

Exposure to asbestos can cause a variety of illnesses, but many of them aren’t apparent until years later.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that’s associated with asbestos workers. Often occurring decades after asbestos exposure, it occurs in the thin tissues covering the lungs and other internal organs. Lung cancer is also more common among those who’ve been exposed to asbestos.

Asbestosis is also seen in people who’ve worked with asbestos, again, symptoms may not start for many years. Asbestos fibres cause lung scarring and inflammation, which is treatable but not curable.

Asbestos demolitions

If asbestos is detected, it’s important that demolition be carried out in a controlled manner, ensuring people aren’t exposed to asbestos fibres.

Demolishing a home with asbestos is safe, as long as it’s carried out by experts, and there are more than ten different ways to carry out demolitions. Therefore, it’s not all about explosions, which can cause dangerous asbestos dust.

Demolition can be cheaper than many other methods, and there are eco-friendly ways to carry it out too. It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of demolition, so you can decide whether it’s right for your property.

Eco-friendly demolition

It’s important that demolition be carried out in an eco-friendly way, and that means using the right techniques to help the environment. Ideally, as many materials as possible should be salvaged, keeping them out of landfill and meaning they can be reused. Anything not salvageable should be recycled, and any asbestos should be cleared safely, then taken for disposal at a specialist plant.

If you are planning to carry out a demolition, and suspect the presence of asbestos, get in touch with SERS for asbestos testing and environmental advice.