5 Facts About Asbestos Testing Services in Auckland
A long time ago, asbestos was thought to be a miracle material. It was resistant to fire and chemical breakdown, stronger than many building materials, and also somehow lighter. But as we’ll cover in today’s blog post, there is, unfortunately, a lot more to this material than meets the eye.
In New Zealand’s urban centres, particularly in Auckland, asbestos was widely used as part of construction. For modern businesses, building owners, and construction crews, it’s important to understand the historical context of this material in Auckland.
Even better, it’s important to understand why asbestos testing is essential to people’s long-term well-being. To keep things simple, we’re covering five essential facts everyone should know about asbestos testing in Auckland from the 1930s all the way to now.
Auckland Has a History with Asbestos
Like many urban centres worldwide, Auckland happily adopted asbestos as a construction material back in the 1930s. Tonnes of this material were shipped to our shores for incorporation into buildings in the face of new fire hazard regulations.
On Kiwi shores, we most commonly used asbestos by processing it into cement and using that to erect fire-resistant buildings. Until the 1980s, many buildings erected in Auckland had between 5 and 15% asbestos hiding unassumingly in the cement.
It would also commonly be used in other asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) like machinery insulation, sheet roofing, and sealants.
The Predominant Asbestos Type in Auckland
There are actually different kinds of asbestos to look out and test for. ‘Asbestos’ is an umbrella term that describes the fibrous building material, with several different types that were widely used from the early 1900s to the early 1980s.
In Auckland, the most common type was chrysotile. While studies have shown that this is up to four times less potent than other kinds of asbestos for some health conditions, it’s still just as likely to cause lung cancer years after exposure.
Chrysotile is typically white, with long curly fibres, which is how it got its more common name: white asbestos. According to the Ministry of Health in New Zealand, the two other most commonly mined types brought to our shores were crocidolite (blue asbestos) and amosite (brown asbestos).
The Regulation of Asbestos in Auckland
Once people began to understand the health risks of working and building with asbestos, health and removal regulations began to crop up to combat the risks. In New Zealand, the first Asbestos Regulation didn’t come into effect until 1978. Imports of raw materials became illegal in 1984, and processed asbestos imports followed suit, becoming illegal 32 years later in 2016.
Following the prevalence of workers contracting diseases associated with asbestos exposure, the Department of Labour set up a National Asbestos Register in 1992 to track individuals exposed to asbestos and those who became ill.
Understanding the Risks is Tough
While researching the people who became sick from asbestos did help in determining how exposure can harm us, it’s tough to understand the full extent of this issue. Asbestos flakes off and is carried into the lungs with an inhale, which is linked to the ongoing health issues it causes.
The problem is that most cancers and illnesses possibly linked to asbestos exposure don’t turn up for years, making them harder to connect with the initial incident. It’s typically easier to diagnose in construction or health workers who have a history of working around asbestos. However, occupants who might have simply lived near the substance can be much harder to trace.
This is why asbestos testing is a crucial step for anyone suspecting an ACM on-site.
Asbestos Testing is Essential
Whether you’re a homeowner or a construction manager, understanding the importance of asbestos testing in Auckland is crucial. According to WorkSafe, asbestos can be found in many different spots in both residential and industrial buildings. Therefore, if you suspect you have asbestos, the next step is to reach out to a lab.
Labs like the ones we run at Consultex will use a variety of testing methods, the most common one being bulk sampling. This is where we take a sample of the material and give you a ‘present’ or ‘absent’ result for the presence of asbestos. If it is there, the next step is to create an asbestos management or removal plan to take care of the hazard safely.
While it can be tempting to ignore the possibility, the history of this material in Auckland, as well as the long-term health risks, make a strong case for being proactive. Asbestos is very dangerous, but it can also be managed with the right techniques.
If you’re unsure where to begin, reach out to the team at Consultex Labs for expert advice on what to do next.
Expert management, consultation, and asbestos testing in Auckland.
At Consultex Labs, we have a history of helping homeowners and commercial workers alike to identify and manage the presence of asbestos safely.
Whether you’re surveying a new site, starting renovations, or are worried about this potential hazard, get in touch with our team today.