Such is the risk of inhaling asbestos dust or fibres that trained professionals need to be consulted if Australians suspect there may be ACM at risk of contaminating their homes or workplaces.
Professionals also need to take the utmost care when they come across what they suspect to be these materials, as they can show up in many different environments.
This was demonstrated in Sydney on Wednesday (June 12), when workers engaged in a plumbing repair on the south pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge found a small amount of asbestos.
According to a spokesperson from Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), plumbers were working to repair a blocked clay pipe which was located under about 50cm of concrete when they came across asbestos pipes.
The site was quickly isolated and samples were taken of the material for testing to determine their composition.
“Results confirmed the presence of asbestos but given the location there was no risk to the safety of workers or the public,” said the spokesperson.
Although asbestos had been found previously on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it had not been known to be present in this particular location.
The Harbour Bridge was constructed at a time when asbestos was a commonly used building material. Only in 1989 was it banned for use in construction.
A licensed contractor was expected to remove the asbestos from the site yesterday (June 14).
Meanwhile, the independent asbestos taskforce established earlier this month to monitor asbestos management at Telstra’s NBN work sites met for a second time yesterday in Melbourne.
Minister for employment and workplace relations Bill Shorten said in a statement that all parties were working to finalise training processes and materials so that workers could safely handle and remove asbestos if necessary.
“Work on Telstra pits containing asbestos will only resume when that training has been completed by employees and contractors,” said Mr Shorten.
Work at the many other pits established after the asbestos ban will continue uninterrupted.
The minister said that the Gillard government wants Australia to lead the world in safely removing asbestos containing materials from homes and work sites.
“Asbestos is a cruel, indiscriminate killer and because of its widespread use over much of the 20th century, remains a persistent threat to Australians,” Mr Shorten said.