Asbestos comes in friable and non-friable forms. Non-friable asbestos is bonded with other materials such as cement; therefore, it does not release its fibres into the air. However, if these materials break down, asbestos can release tiny fibres into the air. Non-friable asbestos is found in older homes, especially in construction materials such as roofing sheets, cement fencing, floor tiles, bitumen products, ceilings and wall materials. Although non-friable asbestos poses a lower health risk due to its bonded state, the factors below necessitate its removal.
When exposed to fire or high temperatures, bonded asbestos may break down and release its harmful fibres into the air. The bonds holding the materials together deteriorate and weaken. Any slight disturbances to the asbestos-containing materials (ACM) may expose household occupants to hazardous fibres. However, for bonded asbestos to become friable after a fire, it must be exposed to high temperatures for a prolonged period.
Therefore, if there has been a house fire or bushfire, it's essential to inspect affected asbestos materials to ascertain their state. If the materials have degraded from the fire, you must remove them to prevent exposure. Only a certified inspector can determine whether the non-friable asbestos has become friable.
Before undertaking renovations in an older home, it's crucial to assess the condition of asbestos-containing materials. Therefore, before pulling out vinyl floor tiles, replacing an old roof or drilling holes into the existing wall, you must conduct an asbestos inspection. Disturbing bonded asbestos may cause it to crumble and release the fibres into the air.
Note that homes with bonded asbestos may also contain non-bonded asbestos as pipe insulation or lagging, spray insulation and carpet underlay. Therefore, even minor redecoration projects such as replacing old wall-to-wall carpets might expose you to this dangerous compound.
To protect your household from asbestos-related complications, conduct a whole-home inspection of both friable and non-friable asbestos. If the material is present, remove it before commencing the renovations.
Normal wear and tear
When construction materials undergo normal wear and tear, they degrade and deteriorate in quality. For example, after years of exposure to solar heat, UV rays and inclement weather, roofing sheets wear and age. The asbestos in the materials becomes friable and releases its fibres into the air.
If your home is more than a few decades old, there's a chance that the once non-friable asbestos in the construction materials is already friable. You need a professional to check the materials, test them and remove friable asbestos from your home.
Non-friable asbestos is only harmless if the asbestos-containing materials are in excellent condition. Contact a company like Asbestos Be Gone to learn more.