Na­tional cam­paign aims to boost as­bestos aware­ness

Countryman - - WA FARMERS - Na­tional As­bestos Aware­ness Cam­paign

Na­tional As­bestos Aware­ness Month was launched yes­ter­day, with Aus­tralians urged to be aware of as­bestos-con­tain­ing ma­te­ri­als and where they might be lurk­ing, and learn how to man­age and dis­pose of it safely.

Aus­tralia was among the big­gest con­sumers of as­bestos-con­tain­ing ma­te­ri­als in the world, with as­bestos used in the man­u­fac­ture of a broad range of build­ing and dec­o­ra­tor prod­ucts that can still be found in brick, weath­er­board, fi­bro or clad homes or farm­houses, par­tic­u­larly those built or ren­o­vated be­fore 1987.

As­bestos can be any­where. Un­der floor cov­er­ings — in­clud­ing car­pets, linoleum and vinyl tiles — be­hind wall and floor tiles, in ce­ment floors, in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal walls, ceil­ings and ceil­ing space (in­su­la­tion), eaves, garages, roofs, around hot water pipes, fences, ex­ten­sions to homes, garages, out­door toi­lets, back­yard and farm struc­tures, chook sheds and even dog ken­nels.

In ru­ral ar­eas, many farm struc­tures were con­structed from fi­bro as a cost-ef­fec­tive means of hous­ing farm equip­ment and stock, in­clud­ing sheds and barns.

Fi­bro was widely used to con­struct “sleep-out” additions to farm­houses, work­ers’ ac­com­mo­da­tion for shear­ers and farmhands, out­houses and water tanks. It was also com­monly used to build com­mu­nity hous­ing through­out much of re­gional Aus­tralia.

Ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties also need to be aware of nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring as­bestos. All as­bestos-con­tain­ing ma­te­ri­als are made us­ing this min­eral.

Nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring as­bestos is not easy to recog­nise and can be found in some rocks and soils on or be­low the ground’s sur­face, so peo­ple work­ing on the land or in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties need to be aware that nat­u­ral as­bestos could be un­cov­ered.

Nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring as­bestos can be any size and shape, and can be green, grey, yel­low or white and these vari­a­tions make it dif­fi­cult to iden­tify.

The only way to con­firm if soil or rocks con­tain as­bestos is test­ing by a li­censed as­bestos as­ses­sor or an oc­cu­pa­tional hy­gien­ist.

All Aus­tralians, es­pe­cially those who un­der­take main­te­nance on build­ings, should visit as­besto­saware­ness.com.au to learn what they need to know about as­bestos and how to man­age it safely.

The web­site pro­vides easy-to-fol­low in­for­ma­tion, an on­line prod­uct database to help iden­tify the types of as­bestos-con­tain­ing prod­ucts to look for and pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions, and in­for­ma­tion on how to man­age and dis­pose of as­bestos safely.

To pro­tect them­selves and fam­i­lies from ex­po­sure to dan­ger­ous as­bestos fi­bres, peo­ple can also down­load the As­bestos Aware­ness Healthy House Check­list — a sim­ple step-by-step guide on how to con­duct a vis­ual in­spec­tion of a home to en­sure any sus­pected as­bestos is iden­ti­fied and can be man­aged safely.

An aban­doned farm shed and out­houses with un­sealed and bro­ken fi­bro.

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