So what is Asbestos? Asbestos is a mineral fibre that was quite popular in construction and building due to its strength, flexibility, lightweight, wide usage and affordability. However once it’s worn or broken, fibres can become airborne. These fibres can be easily inhaled causing lifelong respiratory issues such as lung cancer and in some cases these can lead to a premature death. So when dealing with asbestos materials great care needs to be taken to ensure the safety of all those involved and the health of the general public. Children can be especially vulnerable to asbestos related illness as their lungs are underdeveloped, through asbestos related diseases may take many decades to fully develop and be fully diagnosed.
Before the 1980’s Asbestos was popular for use in walls, floors, roofs and many other products that may be found within schools. Asbestos was even used in playgrounds, particles of asbestos have been found across multiple schools on fields and within these playgrounds, though much of this asbestos is considered low risk. A higher risk Asbestos is friable asbestos which is easily crumbled or broken, this means it can very easily become airborne and be inhaled, non-friable asbestos is denser and only becomes airborne when broken or damaged. Australian schools are taking steps to remove high risk asbestos from all schools country wide, in Victoria all high risk asbestos has been officially removed since 2016 and they plan to remove all low risk asbestos by 2020 to ensure a safe learning environment for all students and teachers.
Why was Asbestos used in Schools?
Asbestos was used in schools before the 1980’s primarily because of it properties, some of the properties asbestos possesses include:
- Wide usage in construction
With these properties it appeared to be the perfect construction material and was mixed with cement, used as insulation and even put in paint to improve a buildings fire resistance.
So How do I know if there is Asbestos in my Child’s School?
The Australia has put into place laws and guidelines regarding asbestos in schools such as the AHERA-Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act which requires schools to inspect the whole school grounds for asbestos by professionally licensed companies, Asbestos Testing Geelong, then have a re-inspection every 3 years, the information from these reports must be maintained and available for the use of parents, teachers, and other members of the community. Another way asbestos has been stopped from entering schools is the Code of Practice which gives a comprehensive list of rules on the requirements of the Work Health and Safety laws. So the very best way to know if there is asbestos in your child’s school is to request to view the schools AHERA report form, however it is also important to remember that some asbestos is ‘low risk and some asbestos is ‘high risk’ some schools may have asbestos in them but have had it professionally declared safe, to protect their staff and pupils. If you feel that there is too much asbestos in your child’s school you can speak to the local council to bring up removal, Asbestos Removal Geelong, or discuss other solutions.
Depending on where you live there may be very little to large amounts of asbestos in your nearby schools, it is important to be aware of the risks asbestos can pose respiratory health, doing research can help you better understand the risks asbestos poses and the prevalence in your area.