A Series of Common Misconceptions About Asbestos
Asbestos, a fibrous material known for its heat resistance and durability, has been widely used in the past. However, there are a number of misconceptions surrounding asbestos that can lead to misunderstanding and potential risk.
In this blog series, we aim to debunk the most common myths associated with asbestos and provide accurate information to promote awareness and safety.
Myth: Asbestos is only found in older buildings.
Many people believe that asbestos is only found in older buildings, assuming that modern construction materials no longer contain this hazardous substance. However, this is a common misconception that can lead to complacency and potential risk.
The truth is that it can be found in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000.
Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were commonly used in the past due to their fire resistance, durability, and insulating properties and can be found in a wide range of building materials, including but not limited to:
- Insulation: Asbestos was widely used in insulation materials, including pipe or boiler insulation, sprayed coating on walls, ceilings, beams and columns, and bulk-fill insulation. Older buildings may still have insulation containing asbestos, posing a potential risk if disturbed.
- Fireproofing materials: Asbestos was commonly incorporated into fireproofing sprays, coatings, and materials used to protect structural steel as well as sheet material for use in ceilings and walls which can release asbestos fibres when damaged or during renovation.
- Roofing Materials: Asbestos-containing roofing materials, such as tiles and corrugated sheets, were widely used in the past. Older buildings with original roofing materials may still have asbestos present.
- Textured Coatings and Paints: Textured coatings were often applied using asbestos-containing materials. Similarly, some paints, especially those used before the 1980s, may contain asbestos as a strengthening or fire-resistant additive.
- Pipes and Cement Products: Asbestos cement pipes and rainwater goods were prevalent in older construction. These materials can deteriorate over time, releasing asbestos fibres into the air.
- Electrical components: Asbestos paper and cloth were utilised as insulation for electrical wiring and components.
- Floor Tiles and Adhesives: Vinyl floor tiles and the adhesive used to install them may contain asbestos. These materials were commonly used in older buildings and can release asbestos fibres when damaged or during renovation.
It is important to note that ACMs do not pose an immediate threat if they are in good condition and left undisturbed. However, when these materials deteriorate, are damaged, or undergo renovation or demolition, they can release asbestos fibres into the air, which can be inhaled and pose a significant health risk.
To ensure safety and compliance with regulations, it is crucial to engage professionals trained in asbestos identification and management when working with older buildings or undertaking renovation projects. These experts can conduct thorough asbestos surveys, assess the condition of materials, and provide guidance on appropriate management strategies.
In conclusion, the misconception that asbestos is no longer a threat in buildings must be dispelled. While the use of asbestos has been banned, it is still important to be aware of its potential presence, particularly in older buildings. Vigilance, proper testing, and professional expertise are key to identifying and managing asbestos-containing materials to protect the health and safety of occupants, workers, and the general public.