Manipulating asbestos is always a health risk. Incidental Asbestos Handling, provides direction for managing asbestos. Asbestos is typically regulated by local/in‐country regulation; therefore, refer to applicable local /in‐country regulations for the project / site prior to initiating work.
There is often a long delay between first exposure to asbestos and the onset of related diseases (15 ‐ 60 years). There are no early symptoms or warnings. Inhalation of asbestos can lead to cancers of the chest and lungs (mesothelioma) and chronic fibrotic lung disease (asbestosis). There is no cure for it.
The presence of intact asbestos materials on site does not necessarily constitute a risk. However, work that disturbs this material (including asbestos cement) such as breaking, drilling, or cutting releases fibres into the air.
The following list shows where asbestos is most likely to be found in buildings and is organized in approximate order of fibre release (most to least);
- Sprayed or loose packing as firebreaks in ceiling voids
- Molded or pre‐formed coatings and lagging ‐ generally for thermal insulation of pipes and boilers
- Sprayed asbestos mixed with hydrated asbestos cement ‐ generally as fire protection in ducts, firebreaks, panels, partitions, soffit boards, ceiling panels and around structural work
- Insulating boards used for fire protections, thermal insulation, partitioning, and ducts
- Some ceiling tiles
- Vinyl flooring backed with asbestos paper
- Paper and paper products for insulation of electrical equipment; asbestos paper has been used as fireproof facing on wood fiberboard
Asbestos cement products ‐ usually flat or corrugated sheets; the latter are largely used as roofing and wall cladding; other products include gutters, rainwater pipes, and water tanks
- Certain textured coatings
- Bituminized products such as flashing and floor tiles.