In 1938, the first asbestos producing plant was established in Auckland by a company known as James Hardie Ltd. Later on, in 1943, a second plant was established in the Riccarton suburbs. The company was known as Fletchers.
However, both companies manufactured cement products that contained asbestos. They mixed Portland cement, sand, and roughly 5 to 15% of either Amosite, Chrysotile or Crocidolite. Asbestos was added into these products because of the many properties that it gave the products. Asbestos was heat resistant, fibrous by nature and had a very high tensile strength.
These characteristics were highly desired since they were crucial in providing reinforcement to sheet metal. The plant in Auckland produced these cement products from its inception until 1987. However, the 1970s saw the peak of asbestos production. Around 1983, asbestos was already being phased out and only used in pipes.
The Christchurch plant only operated until about 1974 where a very large group of workers were employed.
What Type Of Asbestos Was Used In The Plants?
At the time, most plants used white asbestos better known as Chrysotile. Chrysotile was cheaper and made was also much easier to work with. The blue variant known as Crocidolite was rather expensive and had to be imported from South Africa. Crocidolite was more used in products that needed more strength or better heat tolerance.
These existed widely in high-pressure high-temperature pipes. However, an inferior quality Crocidolite was mined in Western Australia and used for some projects. On the other hand, brown asbestos was imported from Zimbabwe formally known as Rhodesia.
Products Containing Asbestos
Asbestos was widely used in New Zealand and throughout Christchurch as a major raw material. Products of the insulation and acoustic nature depended on asbestos. Additionally, asbestos was also mixed with a binder and used to spray pipes, boilers, ducts and other areas that required insulation from noise and heat.
The 1950s until the 1970s saw a massive amount of asbestos being applied to power stations, shipyards, railway workshops, maintenance industries and numerous other applications. At that point in time, the country’s main industrial buildings were sprayed to protect them against heat.
Additionally, asbestos was also used as a fire retardant. This kept structural steelwork safe and protected from fire damages. At the time, asbestos was imported into the country and used for insulation. The contractors mixed the asbestos before spraying it onto wire for reinforcement.
Along with those already mentioned, asbestos was used in several uncommon applications. At one time or the other during the early 1920s until the 1970s, asbestos was used to filter beer. It was also used in wine to give the finished product a more clear appearance. Asbestos was even used as a form of filter media in gas masks during the First World War and even after the Second World War.
What Effects Does Asbestos Have On Humans?
Exposure over the years has left a well-documented ordeal. Since asbestos can be easily inhaled and transported into the lower parts of the lungs, they’ve been known to be responsible for fibrotic lung diseases. This, in turn, changes the lining of the chest and results in a person suffering from reduced respiratory functions and even death.
When asbestos is inhaled for long periods, it can increase the risk of mesothelioma and lung cancer. In other instances, there have also been indirect effects such as enlargement of the heart and blood flow restrictions. However, persons who are subjected to the following are more likely to be seriously affected by asbestos exposure if:
* Exposed for longer periods of time
* Exposed to very high concentrations
* Exposed more often
As mentioned before, asbestos has been known to cause cancer. However, this is more prone in those who were exposed for periods over 22 years. Cancer from asbestos usually occurs from prolonged exposure. With that said, there are also cases where contact up to 12 months resulted in a severe increase in lung cancer over the upcoming years.
Another easily overlooked scenario is housing. Houses were also built with the inclusion of asbestos. cancer symptoms usually present themselves later on. Some common symptoms of lung cancer include sudden weight loss, fever, chronic cough and even chest pain. Since these are also associated with other lung disorders, chest x-rays should also be done.
Mesothelioma is another disease which can develop because of asbestos. There have been reports of asbestos cases coming from occupational exposure. There’s also a malignant variant of mesothelioma that is very aggressive. Fatal cancer in this form is usually experienced in those who have been exposed for longer periods.
However, similar lung cancer can show up after about 10 years. Scientific evidence has left many to believe that when detected early intervention can increase the survival rate.
What Is Friable Asbestos?
Simply put, friable asbestos is the asbestos that is dry. It can also be dried due to work processes. However, when in the dry form, it can be easily pulverized or crumbled by as little as pressure from the hand.
On the other hand, non-friable means that it cannot be crumbled by hand pressure. However, it should be noted that non-friable asbestos can easily become friable over time or as a result of work processes. Non-friable can also become friable due to other instances such as fire damage.
Why Should You Remove It From Your Home?
While all medical-related cases result in those who were exposed on the job, asbestos can still be present in your home. You should call in the experts to have the asbestos in your home removed. However, it should be noted that while it may seem like a DIY, it should never be attempted.
Dealing with asbestos can be a very delicate situation and handling it the wrong way can easily set it free in your home. Asbestos can travel easily when it becomes friable. Due to the health implications attached, it’s best to let the experts take care of your asbestos situation.
As we conclude, we have just looked at the history of asbestos. Asbestos was widely used for the many advantages that it provided. However, the long term effects were far more detrimental. Hence it was banned. So, if you have an asbestos problem, be sure to call in the experts to handle the situation.
We offer one of the most affordable asbestos removal services in Christchurch