Asbestos Australia

Australian Asbestos Resource

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the combination of six fibrous materials namely- crocidolite, amosite, tremolite, chrysolite, actnolite and anthrophyllite. These materials occur naturally and among them, amosite and chrysolite are commonly used. Although the fibers of asbestos are usually microscopic, they are also incredibly durable and can resist fire. At the same time, they are also capable of resisting complex chemical breakdowns. It is the presence of these very properties that makes asbestos incredibly popular for industrial and commercial purposes. The power of asbestos backed by its heat resistance makes it a widely chosen raw material for shingles, ceiling, tiles, cement compounds, equipment for textile and also several automobile parts.

Types of asbestos

Asbestos can be classified in six types namely:

  • Crocidolite
  • Amosite
  • Tremolite
  • Chrysolite
  • Actnolite
  • Anthrophyllite

Among these various types, chrysolite is the most popular variant of asbestos and it is extensively used in making roofs, walls and ceilings. It is also used in the brake linings of automobile, insulation of pipes, boiler seats and gaskets. The second type of asbestos is amosite and it primarily originates from Africa. This type is widely used in insulating pipes, insulating thermal products and making cement sheets and ceiling tiles. The third type of asbestos is crocidolite and it is also widely popular as the blue asbestos. This type does not have much heat resistance and is primarily used for insulating steam engines. At times, it is also used for insulating pipes and making cement items. The fourth type of asbestos is chrysolite and it is not extensively used for most commercial purposes. This is usually observed as a contaminant is insulation items that contain asbestos. Anthophylite is the fifth type of asbestos and it is usually mined in Finaland. This asbestos comes with a grayish-brown hue and this one too like chrysolite is considered as a contaminant. Anthophylite is mostly used in composite flooring. The final type of asbestos is actinolite and it comes with a relatively harsh texture. This asbestos is not much flexible and is primarily found in the metamorphic rocks. It is not commercially used and is usually considered to be a contaminant.

Friable asbestos

Friable asbestos containing material refers to any material that carries more than one percent of asbestos with respect to the mass or area and based on whether the material is bulk or sheet and whether it can be crumbled or pulverized or simply transformed to powder with the pressure of a human hand.

Non friable asbestos

Non friable asbestos refers to that type of the product which contains more than a percent of asbestos and yet cannot to be reduced to the powdery form with the average hand’s pressure.

History of asbestos in Australia

In Australia, asbestos used to be imported from the Canadian and South African regions until World War II. During the war, the popularity of blue asbestos was immensely high. More and more people preferred using it for its high resistance and durability. This type of asbestos was extensively used in making gas masks, tanks, aircrafts and battleships. But eventually, the adverse effect of asbestos was realized and Wittenoom witnessed the very first case of asbestosis back in the year 1946. At this point of time, asbestosis was caused from the asbestos mines and the dust within asbestos. It was observed as a leading cause of chest infection and was one of the major lung irritants.

Health dangers of asbestos

It has been observed that the human health is adversely affected from the extensive and consistent exposure to asbestos. The effects are documented and it has been seen that the fibers from asbestos can be easily inhaled and further be carried to the lower part of our lungs. Consistent exposure to alcohol can therefore lead to a fibrotic lung ailment, widely known as asbestosis which is characterized by the changes in the lining of our chest cavities or the pleura. These ailments can further lead to respiratory issues and eventual death. When you inhale asbestos fibers consistently, then too, you are prone to experience mesothlioma and lung cancer. At the same time, your heart too can enlarge due the indirect effects of the increased resistance of blood movement via your lungs. You are likely to experience asbestos related issues if you are consistently exposed to a very high concentration of asbestos or are exposed to it for a relatively longer or more frequent period of time.

Asbestos statistics in Australia and around the world

According to an estimate from the World Health Organization, about 125 million people across the globe are annually exposed to asbestos in their respective workplaces. The International Labor organization further adds that more than 107,000 individuals die every year due to asbestos exposure at their workplace. In this regard, it should be noted that Western Australia has the maximum rate of asbestos related diseases across the globe. About 156 people died in the year 1982 because of Mesothelioma. This number eventually increased to about 666 in the year 2009 and it has further been estimated that about 18,000 Australians will die by the year 2020 due exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos Exposure; What to do?

If you have been exposed to asbestos, below isa list of points you should consider.

> Schedule timely checkups with your physician

> Take special note of the symptoms of mesothelioma and consult your doctor immediately on experiencing a recurrent symptom

> Consult a thoracic oncologist when you experience any symptom or difficulty while breathing.

> Follow a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

> Limit smoking and tobacco use.

> Follow a regular schedule for vaccination.


Asbestos in your home; what to do?

Most of the homes built before 1980 are likely to contain asbestos in their roofing. It is therefore necessary to:

  • Inspect your home thoroughly in order to prevent any impending asbestos related hazard
  • Send the samples of the suspected fibers of asbestos to a certified laboratory as visual inspection is not sufficient in this regard.
  • Hire a professional to minimize the exposure of asbestos for both you and your family.


Considering the adverse effects of asbestos, it is extremely important on your part to get your home inspected and take proper care of yourself, if you are exposed to asbestos at workplace. Follow the right diet, consult a doctor if you experience any symptoms of respiratory ailment and do not ignore the minutest health issues. This in turn will ensure that you and your family are safe from the adverse effect of this hazardous element.