What's different between Asbestos and Fibrous Cement Sheets?

News > What's different between Asbestos and Fibrous Cement Sheets?

Working with Asbestos Skips we hear a lot about Asbestos,  Fibrous Cement Sheets, Fibro and tall tales from trades people who you would have hope to have known better.  Asbestos can cause some unpleasant illnesses including cancers, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, and other non-malignant lung diseases such as asbestosis, pleural plaques and pleural thickening. Every year in Australia, hundreds of people die from asbestos-related disease. This material was in common use before the dangers to health were widely known and it is lurking in old homes waiting for the unsuspecting home owner.

We get too many calls from ordinary people who have been left with an asbestos problem after a dubious trades-person has finished their work and left the site. One of my earliest recollections was a lady with two young children who had been left a pile of asbestos in her garden by a trades-person after they had "finished their job".  The trades-person had left the asbestos in the garden where the children usually played telling the lady to get a skip bin to get rid of it. Not a very friendly action but maybe the builder  didn't like children.

Asbestos or Fibro?
Asbestos or Fibro?

For the skip hire companies the most frustrating situation is when  someone puts asbestos in a skip bin thinking that no one will notice.  The bin get taken away and 9 times out of 10 the skip bin gets tipped out in a yard to be checked or sorted. Anything placed on the bottom of the skip bin is suddenly on top of the pile of rubbish.  Hard to miss really.  In the picture to the left of the contents of a skip bin you can see pieces of asbestos.

Now we often get told that the builder, a master builder has assured the householder that the material was not asbestos and it could just go in an ordinary skip bin.  This is an interesting situations because the term "Master Builder" is a marketing title from an association.  It is essentially available to any one who wants to be a builder and decides to sign up with a Master builders association in their state.

It does not require that the builder attend any training course in asbestos or have any experience in asbestos removal work.  But that does not stop them being an asbestos expert to any client who is willing to listen.

We can understand that it is a tough market out there at the moment in the building trades. We just don't think any one should be offering advice that could cause harm to others.  

I title this article "Can you tell the difference between Asbestos and Fibrous Cement Sheets" because these are essentially the same material.  Asbestos sheeting that was used to clad houses and for roofing.  The sheets are made up from cement sheeting what contained asbestos fibres to give them tensile strength.  Fibrous Cement Sheets was called fibro and if you do a wikiapedia search you with find they are both described as as asbestos and fibro.

If you get told the material is not asbestos or fibro it is easy to check.  Newer materials that were made to replace fibro have a message saying the material does not contain asbestos.  Without that message you are better off assuming that the material contains asbestos. You wouldn't want to breadth the fibers in by mistake and we should want anybody else to breath these fibers in so err on the safe side.

  • Authored By:Stephen Shergold
  • Updated:05/09/2015