Asbestos products are still found in many buildings and are not dangerous if kept in good condition. However, if an asbestos product is broken or disturbed in any way, it is very hazardous. The material can cause fatal diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos materials are either bonded (tightly bound) or friable (loosely bound).
Bonded asbestos materials are commonly found in houses and often known as ‘fibro’, ‘asbestos cement’ and ‘AC sheeting’. Asbestos containing materials that can be easily reduced to powder when crushed by hand when dry. Friable asbestos has a much greater risk to health as the fibres can easily become airborne if damaged
Friable asbestos was mostly used in commercial and industrial settings for fire-proofing, sound-proofing and insulation. Asbestos containing materials in which the asbestos is firmly bonded with other materials. These materials can still become friable asbestos if broken or damaged.
Where Asbestos can be found
You cannot tell if a material contains asbestos by simply looking at it. In general, Asbestos can be found in:
• corrugated roofing
• wall cladding
• thermal insulation
• electricity and gas meter boxes
• vinyl and linoleum flooring
• asbestos-insulated wiring
• old domestic heaters
• hot-water systems
• fibro sheet fencing.
The following products may contain asbestos:
• Fibrolite (1972–1982)
• Durock (up to 1974)
• Coverline or Highline profiled sheets (1972–1982)