Asbestos can be found in more places around the home than you might expect. This makes asbestos removal commonplace in the majority of demolition and renovation projects. Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material and under Australian law must be disposed of by a professional following strict guidelines to ensure the safety of all involved in the removal.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral with thin fibrous crystals, each visible fibre is composed of millions of microscopic "fibrils" that can be released by abrasion, impacts, cutting, sawing and drilling etc. Different kinds of asbestos exist and are referred to by their mineral colours, blue asbestos, brown asbestos, white asbestos, and green asbestos.
Historically asbestos mining existed more than 4,000 years ago however large-scale processing was uncommon until the beginning of the 19th century, when manufacturers and builders began using asbestos for its desirable physical properties: sound absorption, average tensile strength - resistance to fire, heat, electricity, and affordability. It was used in such applications as electrical insulation for hotplate wiring and in building insulation.
When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibres are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. These desirable properties made asbestos very widely used. Asbestos use continued to grow through most of the 20th century until public knowledge (acting through courts and legislatures) of the health hazards of asbestos dust outlawed asbestos in mainstream construction and fireproofing in most countries.
Prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious and fatal illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). Concern in modern times began in the 20th century and escalated during the 1920s and 30s. By the 1990s, asbestos trade and use were heavily restricted, phased out, or banned outright in an increasing number of countries. Asbestos was finally outlawed in Australia in 2003