Properties of Asbestos: What Makes it Dangerous

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Somah Thong

Asbestos Removal Specialist

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Australia was once a top user of asbestos worldwide. But only lately, we’ve begun to fully understand the health risks from asbestos exposure. This mineral is strong and resists heat well, making it popular in many products. Asbestos can insulate against noise and prevent fires thanks to its fibrous make-up.

Yet, these same fibres, when breathed in, can be deadly. They can cause lung problems, asbestosis, mesothelioma, and various lung cancers. Because of these dangers, Australia now has strict laws on asbestos. Keeping people safe and raising awareness is our main focus today.

Key Takeaways

  • Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral treasured for its strength and heat resistance.
  • Its fibrous structure provides effective sound insulation and fire-retardant properties.
  • Inhalation of airborne asbestos fibres can lead to severe health complications, including asbestosis and mesothelioma.
  • Australia has implemented strict regulations to manage asbestos risks and promote safety awareness.
  • Understanding asbestos health hazards is crucial for preventing further exposure and associated diseases.

The Unique Characteristics of Asbestos

Asbestos is known for its remarkable features, making it a top choice as a durable building material. This section delves into why asbestos is valued, even with its health dangers. Knowing about these traits helps us appreciate its role throughout history and today.


Asbestos is especially durable. It can take on high heat, chemical damage, and wear and tear, rarely breaking down. This made it ideal for uses requiring materials that last. Yet, its toughness also makes it hard to get rid of safely.

Low Electrical Conductivity

Asbestos also has low electrical conductivity. This feature made it a perfect insulation material for construction and industry needs. It helped prevent electrical fires, boosting safety in buildings. However, the health risks from using asbestos now overshadow its insulation benefits.

The Health Risks Associated with Asbestos

Asbestos health risks

Inhaling asbestos fibres is harmful to our health. It’s not just construction or industrial workers who are at risk. People in many other areas can be affected too.

Respiratory Issues

Respiratory problems are early signs of asbestos damage. Symptoms include chronic coughs and scarring of lung tissue. This leads to a decline in lung function. Spotting these issues early is hard.


Mesothelioma is among the worst diseases caused by asbestos. It’s a deadly cancer that affects the lung’s lining, chest, or abdomen. It’s directly linked to asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma can be hidden for years, making it harder to detect early. This fact highlights the importance of taking steps against asbestos dangers.

Invisible Threat: Asbestos Fibres Airborne

Asbestos is dangerous when its fibres spread through the air. This happens when asbestos materials get disturbed. It could be during building fixes or if something accidentally damages these materials. Once asbestos fibres float around, breathing them in can harm your lungs.

How Fibres Become Airborne

Fibres from asbestos get into the air if materials containing them are not handled right or if they break down. Doing things like drilling or sanding can free these tiny fibres into the air. Even small knocks or just aging can slowly let out asbestos fibres. This is why checking the air for asbestos all the time is crucial.

Detection and Monitoring

Finding asbestos early stops people from breathing it in. New tech for checking air for asbestos works really well now. It lets us know exactly when the air has asbestos fibres in it. Regular checks help us know how much of a risk there is and act fast to fix it. Companies like Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane use these smart methods to find and get rid of asbestos, making sure places are safe.

Type of ExposureDetection – MethodMitigation Strategy
Renovation ActivitiesAir SamplingProfessional Containment and Removal
Daily Wear and TearRegular Air Quality MonitoringOngoing Maintenance and Inspection
Accidental DamageReal-Time MonitoringEmergency Removal Services

Common Uses of Asbestos in Australia

Asbestos was used in many Australian sectors for its unique benefits. Yet, due to its health risks, its use is now restricted. We still deal with its presence today, ensuring it’s safely managed or removed. Let’s explore its key uses in various industries.

Construction Materials

Asbestos was mainstay in construction, found in roofing, shingles, and insulation. It was key in asbestos cement products for buildings. Its fire resistance, durability, and soundproofing were highly valued.

Industrial Applications

In industry, asbestos proved essential in machinery and equipment. It resisted high temperatures and chemicals well. Thus, it was used in gaskets, seals, and other materials.

Automotive Industry

The automotive sector greatly benefited from asbestos. It was in brake pads and clutch linings, handling high heat and friction. Due to its health hazards, its use in these parts has been stopped.

Asbestos automotive parts

SectorCommon ApplicationsNotable Properties
ConstructionRoofing, shingles, insulationDurability, fire resistance
IndustrialHeavy machinery, gaskets, sealsHigh temperature resistance, chemical corrosion resistance
AutomotiveBrake pads, clutch liningsHeat endurance, friction resistance

Legal Regulations and Guidelines in Australia

In 2003, Australia made a big move against asbestos. The government banned its use, import, and manufacture. This shows how serious Australia is about keeping people and the environment safe.

Prohibited Use

Under the asbestos regulations Australia, using asbestos is a big no-no. The laws stop new asbestos products from hitting the market. They cut down the risk of coming into contact with asbestos in daily life.

Safe Removal Procedures

The government didn’t stop at banning asbestos. They also set guidelines for getting rid of it safely. Experts must do the job. They follow strict rules to avoid any health risks during the removal process. This keeps both workers and the public safe.

Implementation Year2003
Key ProhibitionUse, Import, and Manufacture
Professional RequirementsCertified Professionals
Key ProceduresAssessments, Inspections, and Disposal

Following these strict rules helps us all. It makes Australia safer and healthier, keeping asbestos dangers away.

Safe Practices When Dealing with Asbestos

When dealing with asbestos, safety comes first. Taking the right precautions helps keep everyone safe. It’s very important to reduce how much we’re exposed to it.

Protective Gear

Wearing the right safety gear, like masks and suits, is key. These items stop you from breathing in fibres or touching them. Good equipment lessens the risk of getting sick from asbestos.

Professional Services

Using experts like Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane is a smart choice. They know how to deal with asbestos safely, following Aussie rules. This way, we make sure asbestos problems are handled right. It keeps workers and the public away from harm.


What makes asbestos so dangerous?

Asbestos, a mineral found in nature, is dangerous because it has tiny fibres. When these fibres get into the air and are breathed in, they can cause serious illnesses like asbestosis and cancer. In Australia, there are strong rules to keep people safe from asbestos.

What are the unique characteristics of asbestos?

Asbestos is strong, heat resistant, and doesn’t conduct electricity, which made it popular for insulation in buildings. However, its health risks mean it’s no longer a safe choice for new projects.

What health risks are associated with asbestos exposure?

Breathing in asbestos can lead to lung problems, chronic coughing, and scarring. It can also cause mesothelioma, a very serious cancer. Often, it takes years for any symptoms to show up, making it essential to avoid asbestos.

How do asbestos fibres become airborne?

Asbestos fibres can float in the air if materials containing them get damaged or during building work. These fibres are hazardous to breathe in. It’s important to keep an eye out and catch these dangers early on.

What were the common uses of asbestos in Australia?

Asbestos was everywhere in Australia, from roofs and insulation to cars’ brakes and industrial equipment. Now banned, managing and safely removing old asbestos is a major task.

What are the legal regulations regarding asbestos in Australia?

Since 2003, there’s a total ban on asbestos in Australia. There are strict rules on how to handle and get rid of it. Professionals must take great care to follow these rules to keep everyone safe.

What safe practices should be followed when dealing with asbestos?

Safety first means wearing the right gear like respirators and coveralls when handling asbestos. Companies like Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane know how to do this safely, following Australian regulations to reduce health risks.

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Somah Thong

Asbestos Removal Specialist

Somah Thong is an experienced, licensed, and qualified asbestos removal specialist and the founder of Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane. Established on June 2, 2010, Total Asbestos Removal Brisbane has become a leading name in the industry, undertaking some of the largest asbestos and demolition projects in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. With a commitment to safety and excellence, Somah and his team have earned a reputation for delivering high-quality services in the asbestos removal sector.