Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Carpets made before 1975 may contain asbestos


ABC-TV has just broken a story about asbestos fibres being found in old carpets which had underlays made from hessian sacks used to cart deadly asbestos fibres from the James Hardie factories.
As if asbestos isn't scary enough - the governments have cracked down on asbestos disposal without ANY decent training and regulation (at least that's the case in NSW) and now we discover it could be in our carpets, too?
How many people have ripped up old carpets to polish their floorboards in recent years?
How many of us remotely understand that any house built before the mid-1980s is likely to contain asbestos in some way?
And when are governments and James Hardie going to get serious about removing asbestos in a safe, reasonable, affordable manner?

MORE ABOUT ASBESTOS

  • Any home or apartment built before 1993 is likely to contain asbestos in some form or another. Asbestos was not only in fibro sheeting, but also in vinyl floor tiles and in zelemite which was used as a type of masonite, often in electricity meters.
  • Fibro sheeting containing asbestos was often used in kitchens, laundries and bathrooms, even in double brick houses. Sometimes old concrete pathways were formed using asbestos sheeting.
  • Any renovator doing rebuilding work could uncover asbestos in unlikely places. Older sheets of fibro are often smooth on one side, and dimpled on the non-fascia side.
  • Licensed asbestos removal contractors are the best trades to employ to remove asbestos, but will cost more than a general rubbish removal or demolisher as they have higher insurance and training costs.
  • Small amounts of asbestos can be removed by renovators. Old fibro sheeting can be wrapped in black plastic and disposed of as a special waste at WSN transfer stations – you will need to ring in advance to obtain a quote. WorkCover have guidelines for the safe removal of asbestos.
  • Every local council has a different asbestos removal policy – and renovations requiring DA approval often have strict handling and removal regulations.
  • Only a visit by a qualified occupational hygienist (usually an environmental scientist) or licensed asbestos removal contractor can confirm whether asbestos is present in a house or apartment. “Ninety-nine per cent of the time you can tell by looking at the way the house is constructed and how old it is, but sometimes you need lab tests to confirm it,” one asbestos removal expert told me.
  • Don’t drill or use circular saws on asbestos sheeting, especially during removal. Minimise all dust and disturbance by spraying water, and dispose of suits and gloves with the asbestos. Asbestos is typically dumped into special landfills that are sprayed with water to minimise dust at all times.


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Pictures: boingboing

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