Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral made up of tiny fibres. When disturbed, it may produce a dust containing asbestos fibres. Breathing these fibres into the lungs may, in turn, cause a range of health problems including pleural plaques, asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Asbestos was commonly used in building materials between the 1940s and the late 1980s. It was used because it is fire resistant, durable and an efficient insulating material. Now that we are aware of the health risks, it is no longer mined in Australia. Since the beginning of 2004, it has also not been imported or used in any Australian products.
Asbestos can be loosely or firmly bound. In older homes, firmly bound asbestos may be found in:
- Exterior fibre cement cladding (AC or fibro) and weatherboards
- Artificial brick cladding
- Flexible building boards – eave linings, bathroom linings, cement tile underlay
- Corrugated cement roofing
- Flue pipes
- Architectural cement pipe columns
- Textured paint
- Vinyl floor tiles or coverings (Ref Vic Government)
Taking a walk along Margate Beach this week I was taking random photographs of some of the homes along the beach-front when I noticed strange activity on an old unit block balcony. There are strict building requirements when handling asbestos and when working on old buildings where asbestos has been used. Presumably this white structure is a filtering unit to capture any dust escaping the unit during renovation work.
These are some of the homes along the water-front at Margate Beach, Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia.
The Redcliffe heritage designer-builder Alex Smith constructed a number of buildings in Margate. The last remaining officially recognized construction in Margate by Alex Smith is the Waltzing Matilda Motel which is to be redeveloped into a four level hotel overlooking Margate Beach & Moreton Bay. (Ref Wikipedia)