Many older homes in New Zealand have features and materials that may contain asbestos, which was very common in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. The problem with this is that asbestos, despite being commonplace in the past, can actually cause a plethora of health issues that can even be fatal – because of this, asbestos testing is absolutely crucial if you want to stay safe.
While modern technology has improved the way we construct buildings for many different reasons, like better materials and more efficient designs, asbestos is no longer used in buildings because it has proven to be very dangerous. In fact, in 2016, New Zealand banned the importation of all products containing asbestos to ensure New Zealanders’ safety.
Asbestos is a harmful substance that needs to be removed when possible. But, what exactly is asbestos, and why is it so deadly?
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural fibrous silicate material. While there are six different types of asbestos, all of them contain thin, fibrous crystals that can break off and release into the air due to abrasion or other disturbances. When inhaled, these microscopic fibres can cause severe and debilitating health conditions that can even be fatal.
Breathing in tiny asbestos fibres can result in the following health conditions:
Asbestosis. Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition that is caused by asbestos fibres. If proper asbestos testing isn’t conducted and you spend a prolonged amount of time breathing in asbestos fibres, the condition can worsen. The microscopic asbestos particles can cause lung scarring, which can cause shortness of breath.
While symptoms can be mild or severe, they often don’t appear until years of continuous asbestos exposure have passed.
Mesothelioma. This condition causes malignant tumours that form around the intestines, stomach, lungs or other organs. Mesothelioma can cause chest pains and shortness of breath.
While this disease can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, it can never be cured; so, preventing this debilitating condition should be prioritised.
Pleural Plaques. This condition causes benign thickening of tissues that form in the pleura or the lining of your lungs. This disease often occurs after ten to thirty years of exposure to deadly asbestos fibres.
Although this disease is often not as bad as others listed here and usually do not require treatment, it can sometimes cause an unpleasant grating sensation when the afflicted individual breathes.
Cancer. If asbestos is not removed through asbestos testing and removal, prolonged exposure can lead to various forms of cancer. For example, asbestos fibres in the air have been shown to cause lung, laryngeal, ovarian, stomach and colon cancer, among many more.
While cancer can be treated through several different forms of medication, lung cancer is by far the deadliest form of cancer, among others. In fact, lung cancer deaths make up almost twenty-five per cent of all cancer-related deaths. Each year, lung cancer takes more lives than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined.
Why Should I Have Asbestos Testing Done?
Asbestos fibres cause a plethora of awful diseases that can ruin lives. In New Zealand, even after banning asbestos products and the phasing out of asbestos in construction, the harmful material can still remain in older homes.
Asbestos used to be a common building material used to strengthen and fireproof construction materials like concrete, cement, pipes, insulation and bricks. So, if your home is older, there’s a possibility that some of its materials were fortified with asbestos.
So, it is vital that you have your areas tested for asbestos, especially if they are older and may contain the harmful material. Furthermore, once the asbestos is removed, it would be best to have asbestos removal clearance conducted to ensure the area is safe for occupation.
If you neglect to hire professionals to do asbestos testing in your buildings and spaces, the deadly substance could remain and release fibres into the air. After prolonged exposure to this air, people who reside or spend long periods in the area could develop debilitating conditions like asbestosis, mesothelioma, pleural plaques or even various forms of cancer.
Who Can I Speak To About Having Asbestos Testing?
To make sure your homes and spaces are safe, it is a brilliant idea to have them tested for asbestos. To have your areas tested, look no further than our experienced and qualified team at Fibresafe NZ. We help New Zealanders stay safe by conducting laboratory testing, asbestos surveying, soil testing and more.
If you would like to speak to our team about getting somewhere tested for asbestos, please visit our contact page or call us at to get in touch with us. We are committed to providing excellent service and helping people like you make sure your spaces are safe.
So, stay safe and test for harmful asbestos with Fibresafe NZ.