Asbestos Handling and Removal in Queensland
The state of Queensland, without doubt, is one of the beautiful places in the world, with friendly environment and sociable people. Australia is a country blessed with a number of minerals among them being asbestos. In the past, asbestos was seen as one of the most useful products in the world; however, its health effects became quite worrying forcing many industries to abandon its use. The mines still exist, and the building constructed using ACM also still stand erect. Reports claim that almost everyone in Australia in one way or the other may have been exposed to asbestos. It’s quite worrying; in this article, we will be discussing about asbestos, its dangers, safety measures and everything concerning licensing here in Queensland.
About Asbestos & Banning
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre belonging to two groups; Serpentine group and the Amphibole group. It gained popularity owing to its flexibility, tensile strength, good insulation properties, chemical inertness and affordability.
These properties made it the best choice for more than 3000 applications worldwide, in turn making asbestos penetrate deeper into our homes. Asbestos containing materials, otherwise known as ACMs are categorised as friable and non-friable. Friable asbestos is mostly airborne while non friable is introduced in our environment when we use products mixed with asbestos especially cement.
However, because of its health hazards, asbestos use was officially banned in Australia as well as in many parts of the world.
Dangers of Asbestos
The dangers of asbestos are mostly health related. In early 1900s, there was this rather disturbing trend where majority of asbestos workers were reported to die from respiratory related problems. An investigation was launched and it was affirmed that asbestos was truly responsible for the infections that led to these people’s demise.
According to medics, prolonged exposure to the asbestos puts one at a risk of developing lung tumors (malignant mesothelioma) and lung cancer in smokers. In addition, asbestos has been alleged to cause chromosomal destruction leading to mutation in the immunity of the affected victims.
Common diseases caused by asbestos include:
- Asbestosis- characterized by difficulty breathing and wheezing
- Asbestos warts- usually affects the skin
- Pleural plaques and many others
It’s important to note that asbestos occurs naturally in the atmosphere and therefore, can be found in construction materials and even in drinking water. In more than one occasion, asbestos has been found within residential areas here in Australia. However if spotted, you are all advised against trying to remove it yourself; of course it is impractical since they are microscopic and cannot be visible to our eyes. Though if you have any suspicions about its existence, it will be prudent for you to leave the place undisturbed and immediately seek help from a fully licensed professional who is knowledgeable in asbestos handling and removal.
For your safety and the safety of everyone within the region, you are advised to observe the following asbestos removal and safety guidelines:
- Not to work with any power tool within the area in question
- Wet the area to prevent asbestos dust from floating freely in the air
- Steer clear from using compressed air
- For drainage, use low-pressure hoses
- Sufficiently ventilate the area
To avoid any further exposure, strictly do not attempt anything in effort to remove it; removal, packaging and also the getting rid of asbestos is rather complicated and therefore should be left for professionals.
Can anyone remove it?
As stated before, asbestos handling is quite complicated and therefore, any attempts aimed at trying to remove it should completely be out of question for all Australian residents. The only people permitted to remove asbestos from residential areas are professionals. However, citing the Australian regulation 2007 for occupational health, “unlicensed persons are also permitted to remove non-friable materials in those areas that do not exceed 10m2”, anything beyond 10m2 should be left to professionals. Again as stated earlier if you suspect availability of asbestos within your area, be sure to let the concerned parties aware, they are well versed in asbestos removal and safety guidelines and therefore knows precisely what to do.
Licensing requirements in Queensland
In Australia, all professionals who deal with asbestos detection, assessment and removal are required to have undergone specialised training and officially authorised by the Director and public health to start any asbestos undertaking. In order to perform asbestos removal in Queensland, all professional are required to have the following licenses before receiving the approvals from the public health board:
A non-friable classB asbestos removal licence:
This licence gives you the authority to get rid of non-friable asbestos and all ACD associated with both the identification and also removal of asbestos.
Friable Class-A asbestos removal licence:
This licence on the other hand, will enable you to dispose both the friable and also non-friable asbestos mixed in either dust or debris anywhere in Queensland.
Finally to be an air-monitoring officer, you will be required to obtain a licensed asbestos’ assessor.
Nevertheless, there are certain criteria that need to be met before one is offered any of these licenses. All that is required from anyone interested in acquiring any of these licenses is now available in public domain and can be accessed through Australian public health’s website.
As always, all Australian citizens are advised to be very cautious of their surroundings. Any slight suspicions should be reported to the responsible parties who are expected to adhere to asbestos safety and removal guidelines. Finally, always be careful to let a professional handle anything related to asbestos whether it is at home or at work place.
Further reading on safety, licensing and guidelines – https://asbestossafety.gov.au/asbestos-information