Complete removal of asbestos from buildings the only long-term solution

A new report by Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency has found that the total removal of asbestos is the only safe way to manage the long-term risks of exposure to asbestos related disease.

“Despite what many might think, asbestos doesn’t last forever and it deteriorates as it ages,” the CEO of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, Peter Tighe, said.

“Over time, asbestos in bonded building materials can break down, and as long as it remains it will pose a hazard to human health and the environment.

“The only way to reduce asbestos-related diseases in Australia is by preventing exposure to this deadly substance, and that means completely removing it from our community.”

The Agency has undertaken an analysis of 11 asbestos building removal and seven contaminated land removal projects around the country, and produced a report with a series of findings based on the learnings from these projects.

These asbestos building removal projects include the Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne, the Amcor Botany Mill in Sydney, the Port Lincoln Hospital in South Australia, and a paper mill in Burnie, Tasmania.

The Case studies on significant asbestos removal report and the Case studies on asbestos land contamination report provide best practice examples of effective and safe approaches to asbestos removal on large projects across Australia and lands contaminated with asbestos.

The findings include the importance of careful planning, flexibility, effective communication, innovative thinking and building a business case which goes beyond a simple cost benefit analysis.

The Case studies on significant asbestos removal report also found that organisations opting to proactively remove asbestos reduce risk to employees and contractors, remove the need for ongoing maintenance and asbestos audits, and ultimately increase the value and potential reuse options for the site.

Australia has the highest per capita incidence of mesothelioma in the world with an average 700 deaths each year and the rates of all forms of asbestos-related diseases is up to five times this number resulting in approximately 4,000 deaths per year.

“These case studies highlight the benefits for governments and organisations of being proactive about removing asbestos from the workplace and the general community.”

“Australia was one of the highest per-capita users of asbestos-containing materials for decades until the late 1980s and now has to deal with significant legacy issues associated with that use.”

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency was established to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness 2014-18 with asbestos research as one of the primary goals.

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