Asbestos is a very dangerous product, one that is used for building materials. It has various forms, namely, corrugated roofing, vinyl tiles, ceiling panels (asbestos cement sheeting), wall sheeting, seamless vinyl, just to name a few.
When these materials are disturbed, they can create these airborne asbestos fibres. While one single bundle of fibres can be no bigger than a grain of rice, one single bundle of fibres can already release thousands of breathable fibres into the air.
Disturbing asbestos just means that you either snap or break the materials. But there are more dangerous ways to disturb asbestos, when power tools are involved, like grinders, water blasters (i.e. Gurneys), grinders, and drills. In Australia, it is illegal for anyone, even licensed professionals, to water blast asbestos materials.
A DIY asbestos removal project can be dangerous, but it is always best to see what can happen when you do it.
The human body is very resilient and has a strong ability to deal with and reject foreign particles, like asbestos fibres, and heal. While this is all and good, asbestos’ structure and shape makes the efforts of the body not entirely effective.
Some of the fibres that are breathed into the body will stay in the lungs and there they will stay forever. Just imagine how many fibres will build up in the lungs with regular exposure scenarios. There are countless opportunities for this to happen and, therefore, the amount of fibres that one person can inhale and build up in their lungs can reach the millions.
Asbestos exposure can have a number of health effects. The main one of these is asbestosis, where your lung tissue is scarred due to the superabundant asbestos fibres that has built up in the lungs. This, in turn, usually leads to impaired lung function, which then can possibly get worse to the point where breathing is a challenge and a chore, almost a battle, and the person would need to have a constant oxygen supply.
Asbestosis in Australia has been rare in recent times because manufacturing of asbestos items have been banned and because of strong regulation for asbestos removal since after 2003.
These days, mesothelioma is the main known effect of asbestos. Mesothelioma is a cancer that forms from the mesothelium, which is the thin layer of tissue that covers most internal organs, like the lining of the chest wall and lungs. This cancer currently has no cure and is a fatal disease. It is also very hard to detect this sickness and is only usually discovered when the disease is already in its late stages. People who are diagnosed with mesothelioma usually only have less than 12 months to live.
A single asbestos fibre can be deadly because just one of it that gets stuck in the lungs can already cause mesothelioma. For more information on asbestos or mesothelioma treatment options contact The Mesothelioma Center
Asbestos, when handled, can also cause warts on the skin. These parts of the skin that are affected would then need to be frozen out or cut. The human skin can’t handle asbestos fibres any more than our lung tissue can.
DIY asbestos removal
In most cases, DIY asbestos removal is illegal. In all Australian states and territories’ regulations, a Class B asbestos removal license is required for anyone to be able to remove any amount of bonded asbestos materials that are greater than 10 square metres. If you want to be able to remove friable asbestos, you need a Class A license.
The only way a regular person, one without a license, can remove asbestos legally is if the material was bonded and if it’s less than 10 square metres.
But even if you meet all those requirements and even if you can do that, it doesn’t seem to be worth all the health risks. Why put yourself in danger of a lifetime of lung and breathing problems or put yourself through the risk of having a fatal disease all because you might want to spend a little less? In the long run, getting sick will be more expensive.
Best thing to do
DIY asbestos removal is incredibly dangerous and mostly illegal. The best course of action would be not to disturb the asbestos, do not touch it or handle it yourself, and leave it to a professional to be taken cared of.
Several companies like Greenlight Services offer an asbestos survey and report, where they will inspect and check where the areas with asbestos are in your own home or at your workplace. The report will be detailed and will include all the areas with asbestos, the extent of it, as well as the friability condition, complete with photos. There will also be a risk assessment and recommendations.