Asbestos was widely utilized in building materials from the 1940s to the late 1980s. The material was employed owing to it being durable, fire resistant and a very efficient substance for insulating. It was and remains a common feature in the majority of older homes. However, now that the health risks associated with its usage have been recognized, asbestos is no longer being mined or being promoted in Australia.
From the start of 2004, it is no longer even being imported or used in any products manufactured in Australia. In fact its removal is being encouraged in situations where it poses health related risks. However, the US Environmental Protection Agency recommends that if the asbestos is unbroken, it would be best if it were left alone because touching or interfering with it could pose even greater hazards.
1. Wet Removal Method
This method is the most favoured. The asbestos fibers get suppressed through having water poured over them under minimal pressure, so that chances of the fibres getting airborne are reduced. Little or no dust gets generated because the water is low pressure. If necessary, a detergent could be added to the low pressure water to enhance the absorption rate. During the entire removal the bathroom surface must remain wet throughout. This method is suitable for the removal of bathroom asbestos tiles.
2. Dry Removal Method
This method may be used in situations where water possibly could pose a safety hazard, such as when somebody working around bathroom electric conductors and live wires. Other situations would be when doing the removal in fully or partially enclosed areas.
3. Water Injection And Saturation Method
With this method, the asbestos gets completely soaked in water in case it is extremely thick, such as a bathroom floor. Water gets directed injected onto the friable asbestos material using a precise injecting head having inlets and outlets of water. Afterwards, the injectors should be disposed as asbestos waste.
Precautions And Safety Steps During Removal
If the bathroom asbestos removal work is large scale, the following precautions should be observed :
- The asbestos remover should be a licensed person permitted to undertake large scale removal of non-friable and friable asbestos
- While removing the asbestos material from the bathroom, the workers ought to put on suitable respirators and protective coveralls to minimize risks of inhalation.
- For removal work that is small scale or being done by the homeowner himself, all safety precautions specified by the local authorities should be observed.
- Indicate to all that hazardous work is in progress using suitable notices. Ideally, the removal work should be performed when the other home residents are away. Remember this is a bathroom which is used regularly by house residents.
- Have the area barricaded or cordoned off to control human traffic into the area for their safety.
- The Australian Code of Practice for the safe removal of Asbestos (2002), stresses that labeled tape may be deployed as a barrier.
- All those who are involved in the removal work should put on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as respirators, coveralls and gloves. These equipments should be the recommended ones and ought to be thoroughly inspected before the work commences and disposed of safely once the removal work is finished.