Asbestos is a building material that was used during the 1930’s through to mid 1980’s due to its strength, cost and the fact that it’s incombustible, heat-resistant and fire-proof. Over time it became apparent that those who were exposed to asbestos ended up with various health complications. This lead to a complete ban of asbestos use in Australia, a law that was passed in late December 2003.
In this blog we will explore the difference between friable and non friable asbestos, provide examples of both and how to conduct asbestos testing.
What is friable asbestos?
Friable asbestos is where asbestos is in the form of small dust like fibres and most of the time isn’t visible to the eye. Friable asbestos is the type of asbestos you need to be cautious of, as the small fibres can easily be inhaled or ingested. If done so, these fibres may become trapped and pass deep into the lungs or digestive system, where they can cause health problems such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. These diseases have been found in people who were exposed to large amounts of friable asbestos for a long period of time. In fact, symptoms don’t usually appear until 20 to 30 years after the initial exposure.
Although asbestos may look non friable, it can be friable and therefore disturbed very easily, even by hand! Friable asbestos is prone to damage and can be easily broken which is why hiring a professional to remove and dispose the asbestos is highly recommended.
What are some examples of friable asbestos containing materials?
The fibrous asbestos materials that were spray applied for fireproofing, sound-proofing, insulation or decorative purpose are generally friable. Friable asbestos may be present in the following materials:
- Roofing felts
- Tremolite containing sand
- Loose or batt insulation
- Insulation boards on walls
- Pipe coverings
- Clay-based plumbing putty
- Flexible connections for ventilation ducts
- Paper “felt” underlayment for flooring
- Mastic adhesives for vinyl floors, carpets and ceiling tiles
This is only a concise list and there are many more friable asbestos containing materials. If unsure, contact us at Rapid Asbestos and we can check for hazardous material. We can often tell just by eye but if it’s not clear we will take a sample to test.
What is non friable asbestos?
Non friable asbestos is bonded using a harder material such as cement. Non friable asbestos materials are solid, rigid and cannot be easily crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder.
If non friable asbestos is disturbed or damaged in anyway then you run the risk of exposing the fibres. This generally happens overtime, for example if the material is crushed, damaged by fire or exposed to harsh chemicals.
What are examples of non friable asbestos?
- asbestos cement sheet – often used for fencing
- asbestos cement moulded products
- bitumen-based water proofing
- vinyl floor tiles
If you are renovating a residential or commercial property that was built before the 1990’s, and are undertaking major work, such as removing flooring, walls, roofs, you should seek professional advice to test the material before you get started.
Friable and Non Friable Asbestos Testing
If you find asbestos, whether friable or non friable, it is important you seek assistance from a licensed asbestos removalist to inspect, test the material, and ensure correct removal and disposal.
With free asbestos sample testing at Rapid Asbestos, there really is no excuse to risk exposing you or your loved ones to the many health issues it can cause.
If you would like to know more about our free sample testing or how we remove and dispose of non friable asbestos, please contact our friendly team who will be more than happy to assist.
What to do if you come in contact with asbestos?
No matter the type of asbestos, whether non-friable or friable, if you have come in contact with either of these materials you should seek medical advice from a healthcare professional.