There are several types of asbestos but they can be categorized into two main types, friable and non-friable. Of these two types, friable are the most dangerous or hazardous to health but both types can present a health hazard and so the Australian Government and other governments have banned both of them from use in buildings.
The different types of asbestos are:
Chrysotile – 90% of asbestos used in buildings was this type and their curly white fibers make them easy to inhale. This type of asbestos is usually found in gaskets, brake linings, brake pads and in insulation, joint compounds, cement and roofing materials.
Crocidolite–These long blue fibers are just as easily inhaled and this type of asbestos is used as insulation (boards or spray-on), ceiling tiles or as a fire protectant.
Amosite – This consists of straight brown fibers and can often be found in roofing tiles, floor tiles and electrical insulation.
Although these other types of asbestos have not actually been used on their own in buildings, they have been known to contaminate, and therefore be present in, other types of asbestos:
Tremolite – This type of asbestos has been known to contaminate Chrysotile and other materials such as paints, plumber’s materials, roofing materials and sealants.
Actinolite – This is the type of asbestos that can contaminate children’s toys, paint and sealants.
Anthophyllite – This is not usually found in construction materials, not even as a contaminant but it is the type of asbestos that has been known to contaminate talc as well as other things.
Although since the 1800s, asbestos has been used in the construction business as it helps to insulate materials from heat and sound, due to its being discovered to present a health hazard, most countries have now banned its use in construction with Australia banning its use since 2003.
Today’s asbestos Sydney is carefully being removed from buildings and disposed of safely, by contractors that specialize in asbestos removal. The companies that deal with asbestos removal are professionals and they need to be because among other things, they have to know what type of asbestos they are dealing with in order to remove and dispose of it safely. These companies will therefore carry out asbestos tests, remove any found and then dispose of it safely in accordance with national and local guidelines.
As asbestos has been banned for use in the construction industry since 2003 in Australia, no building in Sydney, built after 2003 should contain any type of asbestos but building built prior to that may. If the asbestos fibers are inhaled into the lungs, the body is incapable of removing them and so they sit there and can be the cause of cancer or Mesothelioma, both of which can be deadly. It is therefore important to contact one of these companies to carry out tests to see if you and your family are potentially at risk from asbestos induced medical problems. Most of the asbestos fibers however, do not become airborne unless the material they are in is disturbed, like being broken or chipped.