Asbestos containing materials were commonly used in walls in Australian homes for their fireproofing, heat resistance and moisture resistance properties.

Where do homes have asbestos walls?

Asbestos walls are common in houses in Sydney and Melbourne constructed between the 1950s and the 1980s. In houses, asbestos walls are most commonly found in bathrooms, laundries, kitchens and garages as these are rooms where a fire may start unattended and also have exposure to higher levels of moisture and damage. Asbestos was also commonly used on external cladding.

What types of asbestos were used for walls?

Asbestos walls can contain three asbestos types including chyrsotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos). Commonly manufactured products used for asbestos walls include Asbestos Cement Sheet; Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB); asbestos corrugated wall lining; partition fence in garden; cement or AIB spandrel panels to internal or external asbestos walls; and external wall cladding to fibro homes.

How can I tell if my walls contain asbestos?

One can check for asbestos content in the walls through asbestos testing using a combination of stereo and polarised light microscopes to confirm the fibres are aniostropic with a specific refractive index. A NATA accredited asbestos inspector should be called in to collect a sample.

When sampling the wall, asbestos fibres may disperse within the breathing zone posing a risk. Correct sampling techniques for asbestos walls include wetting the surface down, using drop sheets, and wearing protective respiratory equipment and disposable overalls.

What are the health risks from asbestos walls?

The risk of asbestos related health issues will depend on whether the asbestos wall comprises of bonded or friable asbestos, the condition of the material and the use and occupancy of the area. Bonded asbestos walls made of cement sheet and corrugated asbestos are generally quite stable when they are in good condition and are only cause for concern during renovations or major refurbishment.

Asbestos Check provides commercial and domestic clients with extensive asbestos inspection services including asbestos identification, testing and management.