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Asbestos Threats in Gold Coast’s schools

Given the widespread use of asbestos–containing material (ACM) by the construction industry before 1980, ACM continues to be a threat to teachers and students across Australia. There are locations in schools where the risk of exposure persists and your children may already be exposed to this harmful material; without them or you realising it.

There’s a high chance that school buildings built before the 1980s contain some form of ACMs. In spite of the mandatory ACM inspection, an audit revealed that most school in Australia has ACMs. Based on a survey in 2016, only 3% of schools in the state of Victoria are asbestos-free. ABC News also reported that this toxic material contaminated hundreds of NSW schools.

Goldcoast asbestos home removal testing school

In Queensland on the other hand, concerns arise as there were almost 80000 presumed and confirmed ACM sites in Queensland schools. Around two schools in Queensland are in partial shutdown each week because of fibre-related problems. Unfortunately, Gold coast also face a similar problem as four schools had been confirmed to have ACM in the building. To add to the rising concern, authorities were only using Band-Aid to seal the identified fibrous materials.

The chief executive of the asbestos safety and eradication agency, Peter Tighe, stated that the existing cleanup effort is insufficient and that the band-aid treatment might cause a greater problem in the future.

These recent findings escalated the mistrust and anxiety among parents since ACMs are commonly found in accessible locations within reach of children, like walls. Even thought the walls might be in good condition, that situation can change if someone unintentionally puts a hole in the wall. All it takes is a kid kicking in part of a structure or a ball going through a wall, and there would be a risk of exposure.

The Removal and Testing of Asbestos in Gold Coast

Prevalence of ACMs usage in Australia

Six different kinds of ACM were mined in Australia including chrysotile (white), crocidolite (blue), amosite (brown), anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. Chrysotile is probably the most common and most well-known type of ACM in Australia and is the only one that is still being mined to this day. It’s shown that about 90-95% of ACMs found in today’s school buildings are of this variety.

In 1970, Australians realised the health hazards caused by ACM that led to its ban in manufacturing and any form of use. A decade later, fibre mining locations were closed and the use of ACM was officially banned in 2003. However, the ban was considered too late since ACMs were used to construct 1 out of 3 buildings in Australia. In fact, Australia has the most number of recorded ACM installations per capita.

The fight against ACMs in school

As a consequence of its pervasive usage, Australia has the second-highest ACM related death rate in the world, after the United Kingdom. In 2014 alone, 641 Australians died from mesothelioma, which is a rare cancer disease caused by inhalation of harmful fibres. Several death cases involved teachers as a result of fibre exposure. From 1980 to 1985, 15 mesothelioma death cases among teachers were recorded. Now, the number of mesothelioma cases among teachers has doubled since 1985.

Briefly, the risk of exposure increased when:

  • it is dislodged during upgrades or repairs to classrooms
  • it is dislodged during a vandalism
  • it is dislodged during damage to school buildings
  • airborne fibre resurfaces in sandpits or school playgrounds

Unfortunately, medical evidence indicates that there is no safe level of exposure to ACM. Reason being, we breathe millions and millions of microscopic fibres each day. There are reports of minimal or even a single exposure to ACM that caused death or a life-threatening disease. When inhaled, fibre substance normally settles in the lungs and remains there for a long time. You can end up developing a respiratory illness many years after inhaling the fibres. The diseases you might develop include lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. It is, therefore, vital to have hazardous material removal and testing to keep these diseases at bay.

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More needs to be done to ensure schools are safe

With ACM being widely associated with industrial and construction work, the government continues to address this issue and improve the management of fibrous materials in schools. The government required ACM inspection of school buildings to assess the presence of ACM and prevent it from being damaged. Safe Work Australia also created a code of practice to guide people with the identification and proper management of ACMs.

Testing for ACMs in schools

Knowing how to spot potential locations of ACMs can help teachers and parents maintain a safe environment for staff and students. Common locations for ACMs in schools include:

  • Vinyl flooring products
  • Walls ceilings
  • Cement sheeting
  • Bag racks
  • Bunsen burner
  • Splashbacks
  • Drains
  • Old telecommunication pits
  • Pipes around trees
  • Benches

Unfortunately, you cannot tell whether a material contains friable ACMs or not unless you test it. Thus, getting a professional contractor to analyse the suspected material is important.

Fibrous material removal in schools

Due to the dangers it poses, fibre substance was declared hazardous and can therefore only be removed by licensed companies who have the right certification. These are companies with staff members who have gone through courses and training related to the removal of ACM and have passed the examinations. A company that can safely perform asbestos removal in your premises is one with a Class A license.

If you suspect the presence of ACMs in the school building, get in touch with us immediately! We will connect you with professional removalists to identify and remove the fibrous materials; prompt and right the first time.

Total solutions for your fibre problems

We are the home to A-class licensed contractors who are knowledgeable, exceptionally skilled and highly experienced. We connect people with competent and reliable contractors who have been thoroughly screened to ascertain their ability in delivering excellent services at competitive prices.  They strive to deliver the best services and overcome problems caused by ACMs in commercial, residential, and government settings around the Gold Coast area.

Our endorsed contractors will remove the hazardous material in your building and undertake the jobs in the best way possible and in accordance with the latest regulations. They are determined to eliminate the risk of fibre exposure and providing maximum protection for the people residing in your building. Whether it is school buildings, residential premises, or government properties; our approved members have the necessary equipment, abilities, and experience to remove the fibrous materials safely with correct procedures.

A comprehensive range of services offered by our members

Your health and safety are our highest priority; this is why we only endorse skilled and knowledgeable contractors who get the job done efficiently and safely. Our approved members will identify the presence of fibrous materials in your building and come up with the most appropriate fibre removal and testing method.

We will connect you with competent and reliable contractors who provide a comprehensive range of services including asbestos removal, roof removal, testing, management plan, air monitoring, consultancy services, demolition, emergency repair, and soil remediation at competitive costs.

  • Asbestos removal – Performing removal and disposal of ACMs within your property. They will further dispose of the waste safely in the landfill facilities that accept toxic waste, which is at Reedy Creek and Stapylton landfills.
  • Asbestos testing – Sampling and testing by a certified assessor via an accredited laboratory.
  • Asbestos roof removal – A thorough inspection of your roof, including removal and replacement of the old roof.
  • Asbestos management plan – Developing a comprehensive management plan and register.
  • Consultancy services – Independent review of fibre removal and testing performed by different companies.
  • Air monitoring – Background air monitoring to assure that the contaminated area is safe for reoccupation.
  • Demolition – Deliver a detailed report on type and condition of ACM at your premises.
  • Soil remediation – Accurate and fast identification of contaminated soil.
  • Emergency repair – Removal of all ACMs, including flooring, roofing, and fencing materials, upon natural disasters or accidents.

Our members are putting quality and safety at the center of all they do. Their team of specialists can manage even the most challenging and demanding projects. They have countless years of experience in fibrous material removal industry and have delivered the desired results for all clients. Contact one or more contractors through us and provide them with a clear description of your needs.

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Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

It is likely that there is asbestos within your child's school. Asbestos can be detected in several locations, including school. The biggest concern regarding the asbestos material is the friable substance. It's the type of asbestos material that can easily break and goes airborne.

It is difficult to tell whether a product in your house contains asbestos or not by simply looking at it. If you suspect a material in your house might contain asbestos (for instance floor tile, roof tile or old pipe place) or if you are planning on doing a remodeling that will interrupt the material, the EPA recommends to have the material tested by a professional and certified contractor.

If you are going to put a hole in non-friable asbestos (e.g. a chimney), the safest way to handle the situation is by replacing the whole asbestos sheet with non-asbestos sheeting. Then, if you need to cut a hole, you can do it in your new sheeting.

The chances of any individual developing an asbestos- related illness depends upon a few aspects, including:

  • How long is a person exposed to the hazardous material?
  • How much of asbestos fibers being inhaled?
  • Individual susceptibility
  • The type and size of asbestos fibers
  • Additional aspect, like are you a smoker or not (Research indicates that smoking significantly increases the danger of lung cancer in individuals who have been exposed to the material)

If you are going to perform activities that might release fibers (such as cutting, drilling or removal), you have to take appropriate precautions for the situation. Hiring a professional and certified contractor is the safest way to handle your asbestos material.

The health risk of broken asbestos cement sheets is generally low. It is because the material is in bonded condition where the fibers are bonded within the cement mixture. The best way to handle the material is by replacing the asbestos sheets with the non-asbestos one.

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