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What is the Difference between Friable and Non-Friable Asbestos?

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There are in excess of 3,000 known processed asbestos products. The Home Asbestos Identification Pak walkthrough presentation features over 40 of the most common products you will encounter in most homes in Australia.

Asbestos products were manufactured in two forms – friable asbestos and non-friable asbetsos.

Non-Friable Asbestos
Over 97% of the products in Australia were non-friable material in which the Asbestos fibres were bonded by cement, vinyl, resin or other similar material.

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If accidentally damaged or broken these asbestos products may release a few fibres initially but will not continue to do so…

The top image shows corrugated asbestos sheet roofing with signs of weathering. The next image is broken asbestos cement fence sheet showing the asbestos bonding materials. This needs to be made safe to minimise additional fibre release. The third image shows a splash back panel with tiles over asbestos sheet.

Friable Asbestos

The hazardous friable asbestos is material which can be crumbled, pulverised, or reduced to powder by hand pressure. This may also include previously non-friable material which becomes broken or damaged by mechanical force.

As a general rule – If the Asbestos containing material can be easily disturbed and become air borne – by the effect of a breeze or simply creating a breeze by walking past it – it is in a friable state.

The fourth image presents examples of friable rope and lagging. The last example is a woven asbestos fire blanket.

As Asbestos products were very versatile they could be easliy molded, shaped, cut drilled or painted. There is no conclusive on-site testing for the presence of asbestos. Asbestos products can only conclusively be determined through laboratory testing following sampling.

As a general rule, if you think the material is asbestos – treat it as if it is asbestos until proven through laboratory testing.

If you would like to know about how you can visually identify the presence of asbetsos in your own home follow the link to the Home Asbestos Identification Pak. This pack outlines how to do a visual inspection of your home and record the results.

With asbestos awareness and working with asbestos training – you can safely do maintenance tasks, small job and deal with emergencies in your home – you can manage your asbestos safely. Awareness training is available on line. Learn about Mesothelioma and Asbestosis here

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