Exploring the Facts About Asbestos Safety

Exploring the Facts About Asbestos Safety

Asbestos is a dangerous hazard and one that should be approached and removed with the utmost care. Since its discovery as a construction material decades ago, this fibrous material has made its way into homes, businesses, and industrial structures all across the world.

In New Zealand, our heritage sites and long-standing buildings all have the potential to be housing this dangerous material. When we encounter it, it’s vital to safely test, treat, and remove it as quickly as possible.

Despite its benign appearance, there is a lot more to asbestos than meets the eye. In this blog post, our aim is to increase asbestos awareness by reviewing asbestos safety regulations, hazards, and more. Jump in with the Consultex team for a primer on this insidious material.

Asbestos Awareness: The History of Asbestos in New Zealand

Asbestos use really took off during the Industrial Revolution when it was discovered that it was a fire-resistant building material and had insulating properties. We then used it to build everything, putting it in our construction materials, our roofing, our insulation, and even in fireproof coatings.

The 20th century saw the biggest boom in this material’s usage, seeing it incorporated into everything from our homes to our cars. However, before long, studies emerged linking asbestos to lung diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma. From there, asbestos treatment, surveying, and removal have evolved into a necessary part of the construction industry to protect workers, families, and the general public.

Professional asbestos abatement and removal procedures are essential for safely removing this dangerous material, which is why we at Consultex make identifying asbestos and safely removing it our business – across a plethora of applications.

Asbestos Hazards: How Asbestos Impacts Our Health

One of the most fundamental aspects of our modern-day asbestos knowledge is how it can impact our health. In that vein, we’re exploring a few of the most common ways undetected asbestos or poor asbestos removal can harm workers or building inhabitants.

  • Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease. As you might be able to guess from its name, the core cause is from the damaging effects of asbestos.

Essentially, asbestos is incredibly fibrous, and the fibres are very delicate, meaning they flake off and are easy to inhale. These tiny fibres cause lung scarring when inhaled, resulting in persistent coughing and reduced lung function, eventually resulting – in severe cases – in death.

  • Lung Cancer

Over a long period of time, exposure to asbestos can sharply increase the risk of developing lung cancer (particularly in people who smoke). It’s sometimes hard to pin down the root cause, as the cancer typically doesn’t manifest until years after the initial exposure.

There is also a type of cancer linked exclusively to asbestos exposure called mesothelioma. It is aggressive and challenging to treat, often prompting a poor life expectancy.

It’s crucial to note that the health effects of asbestos exposure are strongly dose-dependent. This means the effects relate to the intensity and duration of exposure. Some individuals may develop these diseases; some may not.

However, the safest attitude is that it’s essential to prevent further asbestos exposure by identifying and properly managing materials containing asbestos as they are being removed.

Asbestos Safely Regulations: The Keys to Safely Handling Asbestos

  • Survey and Testing

If you suspect the presence of asbestos, it’s essential to test samples using an accredited laboratory that is equipped and qualified to handle asbestos safely.

If the tests confirm the presence of asbestos, from there, it’s the role of a company like ours to conduct a thorough survey. These surveys help to identify where in the building all the asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are so that they can be contained or safely removed. We call this an asbestos management plan.

  • Minimise Disturbance

Asbestos is an incredibly delicate material. As we mentioned, the fibres are very easy to inhale, causing ongoing lung damage and scarring once they are embedded in the lungs.

To that end, it’s essential to minimise disturbances when asbestos is being removed. The procedure must be conducted gently and with the utmost care, and it’s likely that occupants will need to move out of rooms or structures for the duration of the treatment.

  • Appropriate PPE

To that point, it’s also vital to wear the appropriate PPE when asbestos is being removed. Respiratory protection and protective clothing help prevent the inhalation of asbestos fibres and prevent skin contact.

This article has just scratched the surface of what’s important to know when you potentially have asbestos in your building or site. However, the most important point we can make here is never to attempt to remove it yourself. Always call a qualified, professional team that can safely dispose of the material in a way that won’t jeopardise anyone’s health.

If you’re concerned about the possibility of ACMs in your environment or site, the team at Consultex can safely help with surveying, testing, and safely handling the material.  

Ready to prioritise asbestos safety regulations in your projects?

At Consultex, we take asbestos hazards seriously. Contact Consultex today for expert guidance on asbestos safety and to ensure a secure and compliant environment.

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