What is Friable Asbestos? Everything You Need to Know

The potential harm caused by asbestos products is something that everyone needs to recognise before they start work around the house. While the use of asbestos in homes is strictly regulated, this hasn’t always been the case.

In fact, during the 1980s the asbestos epidemic in homes built around Australia was widespread. In order to prevent exposure and the harm that can occur, it’s important that you know a little bit more about asbestos, how it can affect you, and where the greatest risk of exposure exists.

One important fact of asbestos that is important to address is the difference between friable and non-friable asbestos.

What is Friable Asbestos?

Friable asbestos is the loose term used for any asbestos-containing material that can be crumbled, crushed, or turned to powder using the relative force of a human hand. In simple terms, friable is a word used to describe anything that easily crumbles, so the term itself tells you everything that you need to know about friable asbestos.

Any material that is friable and contains more than 1% of asbestos is, by definition, considered regulated asbestos-containing material. Many of the uses of friable asbestos were banned under EPA regulation in 1978, however, many products that contained asbestos remained on the market until the early 2000s until an Australia wide ban was enforced at the end of 2003. Australian asbestos company GBAR group warn those commencing work around their house to have materials tested to avoid exposure to friable asbestos.

Examples of Friable Asbestos

Prior to regulation, the use of friable asbestos materials in construction was extremely common. You could find friable asbestos materials in products such as thermal insulation pipes, water heaters, ceiling tiles, roofing products come up plaster, and wallboards – just to name a few.

As explained above, many of the domestic and commercial uses of friable asbestos have been eliminated, however, in many older homes, friable asbestos products are still present. Regulatory bodies recommend that everyone who is commencing construction on a house that was built between 1970 and 1990 has the premises inspected by an asbestos specialist before any construction wood demolition takes place. According to GBAR Group, the number of people beginning construction on homes built throughout this period without doing their due diligence is concerning.

The Difference between Non-friable and Friable Asbestos

As we’ve explained, friable means anything that crumbles easily, therefore when something is described as non-friable it means that the material does not crumble easily. By definition that is everything that separates friable and non-friable asbestos products, however, there is much more to it than that.

When it comes to asbestos laws, the difference between friable and non-friable asbestos is that the former is regulated while the latter is still in production today. From a practical standpoint, the difference is that non-friable asbestos contains some kind of bonding agent that contains asbestos.

Get Professional Help

If you believe that you may have a friable asbestos-containing material, it is not safe to remove these materials on your own. The first thing that you should do is hire a qualified specialist to test your home for asbestos. If the material is found in your home, then you need to employ a certified contractor to remove and safely dispose of the material. Harsh penalties exist for people found to be illegally dumping asbestos.

Exposure to asbestos still poses a serious health risk, so it is important to understand where asbestos may be and what you can do to ensure that you are not exposed.