January saw the Western Australian region of Perth Hills experience dangerous fires, with recovery for the residents within the area made more difficult due to the presence of asbestos. The fire exposed the dangerous material to open air which threatened the lives of property owners who were attempting to salvage their homes.
Quick primer on asbestos
Asbestos was a sought after construction material in the past due to its low cost, insulating capabilities and flexibility. However, the material is now known for being the primary cause of various serious respiratory diseases. This led to the banning of asbestos in the 1980s. However, many buildings still contain the substance today.
When a person breaths in asbestos fibres, they can attach to the lung’s cells and enter the blood stream. Over time, the material damages an individual on a molecular level by acting as a potent carcinogen. The symptoms of asbestos related diseases can develop many years after initial exposure. Within this time, the exposed individual experiences either mesothelioma, lung cancer or other respiratory diseases.
Asbestos and fire damage
Asbestos is highly resistant to fire. In fact, the material was once used to make homes more fire resistant. However, it is also not immune to high temperatures. When exposed to a temperature of over 100°C, the material begins to lose its structural integrity, while other parts of it can experience thermal expansion. The real threat of large amounts of fire to asbestos is how it can easily break apart the material. As mentioned above, anything which disturbs the asbestos fibres can cause it to release very small amounts of fibre into the air.
Dangers within the aftermath of the Perth Hills fires
For Perth Hills, once the fire died down, the threat of asbestos became visible in the damaged homes. Most of the houses there were built before the 80s when the material was not yet banned from use. Residents were advised to avoid entering their homes. Instead, help from a professional asbestos removal firm was recommended. Due to the severity of the situation, a licenced removal contractor can safely remove the threatening material within their homes.
Always remember to prioritise your safety should a situation similar to Perth Hills happen near your home. If you need more information regarding the threat of asbestos, you can get in touch with Asbestos Removals Australia on 0406 426 144 today.