Asbestos can be a very dangerous substance, which is why it's no longer used in the construction of Australian homes and buildings today. However, this doesn't mean that there is no risk of coming into contact with the substance and of suffering some very severe and adverse health risks because of it. Note a few questions you might have about asbestos and your chance of exposure to it and how to keep yourself safe.
Should a person be concerned about building supplies containing asbestos?
Asbestos was banned from all use in Australia in December of 2003, so new building supplies and materials should not contain any of this substance. While this means you shouldn't typically be concerned about needed supplies for a renovation or remodelling project, note that asbestos, like any other contraband, may be illegally used in some materials that escape government notice. To ensure your safety, always buy name-brand supplies from reputable hardware stores, versus off-brand materials from small stores that may not get their inventory from a reputable supplier. Have reclaimed building materials inspected as necessary to ensure they don't contain asbestos, mould, insect infestations and other such contaminants.
Do you automatically get sick when you come into contact with asbestos?
Asbestos fibres are dangerous, if not downright deadly, when breathed in, but note that they don't typically make a person sick right away, and coming into contact with small amounts of asbestos may also not be dangerous for everyone. The concentration of the asbestos you breathe in, the length of your exposure to the material, the size of the fibres, and your own individual health all contribute to your likelihood of getting sick. However, this doesn't mean you should ignore these risks if you think your home has asbestos fibres present; talk to an asbestos removal expert and then also check with your doctor if you've been exposed to ensure your good health.
Why isn't asbestos always removed when it's found?
Since asbestos is only dangerous when inhaled, it can be contained in the home, and the occupants will be safe. It might even be more dangerous to try to remove the material, as this can allow some of it to become airborne in the process; the fibres may then settle on your property or a neighbour's property. There may also be limited access to facilities that recycle or otherwise dispose of asbestos properly, and putting the material in a landfill can also allow it to become airborne. In these cases, containment can often be the safer option.