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What is the difference between friable and bonded asbestos products?

Asbestos removalist

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral containing toxic fibres that pose a serious health hazard to people and animals when inhaled or ingested. Asbestos was used for many years in building products and construction materials – and, in many countries, still is.

While asbestos products have been banned in Australia since 31 December 2003, any building built before 1989 is likely to contain some form of asbestos building product, most commonly in the form of asbestos cement sheeting. In fact, it was so common that Australia still has the second-highest rate of asbestos related deaths in the world.

Asbestos products are manufactured in two main forms – friable asbestos products, and bonded asbestos products. In this article, we’ll take a look at the differences between the two.

Friable asbestos

Also known as ‘loose’ asbestos, friable asbestos products contain raw asbestos that can easily be crumbled into fine material or dust. Friable asbestos products usually contain the highest levels of asbestos – in some cases, up to 100%.

Because the asbestos fibres are held so loosely in the product, they can easily be released into the air when disturbed. This causes a major health hazard due to the likelihood that the asbestos fibres will then be inhaled by people who live or work in the area.
As a general rule, if an asbestos product can be easily disturbed by a breeze and cause fibres to become airborne, it is considered to be in a friable state.

Friable asbestos is extremely dangerous and, by law, can only be handled by a licensed asbestos removalist.

Products that use friable asbestos

Since the late 1800s, friable asbestos products have been commonly used for the purposes of fireproofing, soundproofing and insulation in both commercial and industrial construction projects. Friable asbestos products may also be found in houses built before 1990. Examples of friable asbestos products include boiler insulation, fireproofing materials on steel work, sprayed insulation, and pipe lagging.

Bonded asbestos

Bonded asbestos products, also referred to as non-friable or loose asbestos, are made by combining a bonding compound such as cement with a small amount (usually less than 15%) of asbestos. Bonded asbestos products tend to be solid and sturdy, and can’t be crumbled or reduced to powder by hand pressure in the way that friable asbestos can. Additionally, the asbestos fibres within the product are tightly bound, making them less likely to be released into the air.

Because non-friable asbestos products in good condition do not release any asbestos fibres into the air unless they are disturbed, they pose much less of a health hazard to those who are in contact with them than friable asbestos products. Of course, it’s crucial that appropriate safety precautions are taken when working with bonded asbestos products, as these can still become dangerous when damaged. Additionally, non-friable or bonded asbestos products may become friable as a result of damage or extensive wear and tear.

Products that use bonded asbestos

Examples of non-friable asbestos products include asbestos cement sheets and cement moulded products, vinyl floor tiles, and bitumen-based waterproofing materials. An example of non-friable asbestos products that can become friable when damaged or worn include an asbestos cement sheeting that has been crushed, or has deteriorated from long-term exposure to a chemical mist. Bonded asbestos cement products may be referred to as fibro, asbestos cement, or AC sheeting.

Bonded asbestos removal services

Asbestos is a banned substance with serious health risks. If you find or suspect the presence of asbestos, never attempt to remove it yourself – in addition to being incredibly dangerous, it’s prohibited by law for asbestos to be handled without a licence.

At Perfect Contracting, we are fully licenced to provide bonded asbestos removal. Our experienced and knowledgeable team are fully equipped to remove bonded asbestos products in a safe and thorough manner, while protecting you and the community from the toxic dust and fibres and minimising any impact on the environment.

For more information on our services, take a look at our webpage or request a free quote.

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