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Considerations Before Removing Asbestos Fence
Every homeowner should always take precautions regarding health and safety when dealing with asbestos. Asbestos fencing can release microscopic fibres, which can be extremely dangerous when inhaled or swallowed. Due to the many health risks, such as Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, and lung cancer, health experts and officials advise homeowners to consider asbestos fence removal.
While the removal or replacement of asbestos fencing is always beneficial, it may not be always necessary. In some instances, you can still use an asbestos fence before it can cause any potential health problems.
After knowing how to tell asbestos fence from other fence types, the next step is to determine the best time to remove them. The first thing you’ll need to do is to assess its condition and take actions in response to your assessments. In some cases, you may also need to consider asbestos removal professionals.
Assessing the Condition of Your Asbestos Fence
While asbestos can last anywhere between 25 to 70 years, several factors can cause considerable damage to asbestos fences. The older and more damaged the fences are, the greater the need for removal. When doing the asbestos inspection to determine the best time to remove them, you can consider the following: (1) the degree of the weathering, (2) physical damage, and (3) vertical lean.
Degree of Weathering
Weathering hastens the erosion of the cement matrix that binds and surrounds and binds the asbestos fence. Signs of deterioration include breaking and peeling of the asbestos fibres and fibre bundles. The toxic asbestos fibres take on a raised or fluffy appearance which usually sparkles under the sun. Moss growth is also a visible sign of weather damage often found on older fences. The greater the degree of weathering, the more brittle and susceptible to breaking or damage the fencing becomes, which gradually compromises other fence parts.
Physical damage can range from minor scratches, small breakages, holes, cracks to broken sheets. Most of the asbestos release occurs when the fences are damaged.
Common causes of physical damage to asbestos fences include vehicle collisions, vandalism, fire damage, and plant damage. The greater the physical damage on an asbestos fence, the more cause for considering asbestos fence removal.
The vertical lean of asbestos fences is also a good measure in assessing its overall condition. As the angle increases, so does the risk of collapsing and releasing dangerous amounts of toxic asbestos fibres. Exaggerated vertical lean is also a clear indication of a broken and weak foundation. Leaning asbestos fences are also more susceptible to both physical damage and weathering.
Rating System for Assessing Asbestos Fences
To assess the condition of asbestos cement fences, the Department of Health of the Government of Western Australia developed a scale based on signs of weathering, physical damage, and degree of vertical lean. However, the ratings only serve as a guide rather than a definitive system. If you have any doubts about assessing your asbestos fence, you can ask for asbestos inspection services from professionals.
Good/Fair – Little to no sign of visible deterioration and weather damage. No asbestos cement matrix breakdown on the surface. Fence has minor scratches, few small breakages, and slight plant damage. Leaning no more than 5cm at the top for a 2m fence.
Average – More visible sign of slight weathering with a breakdown of the cement matrix and exposure of some asbestos fibres. Fence has numerous minor breakages or several larger cracks and holes. Leaning at least 5cm but no more than 15cm at the top.
Poor – More prominent signs of weathering, including raised asbestos fibres and moss growth on the surface. Fence has a few whole broken panels or numerous holes and cracks. Leaning 15cm-30cm with visible cracks. Having more of the “Average” rating damage features.
Very Poor – Extensive signs of weathering. Moss growth and raised asbestos fibres are clearly visible. Fence has numerous whole broken panels or fire damage. Leaning 30cm or more at the top with more apparent cracks. Having more of the “Poor” rating damage features.
Remediation Measures According to Assessments
There are several remediation measures that you can take depending on the asbestos fence inspection and the fences’ condition assessment rating. Like the rating system, it only acts as a guide. The remediation process of asbestos fences is still a case-by-case basis.
Good/Fair – little action is necessary other than monitoring and removing any broken fragment. Preventive maintenance, including painting, sealing, and removing invasive plants, can benefit some fences and slow down their deterioration.
Average – removing and replacing damaged fences or the whole fence should be considered or planned at the soonest time possible. Capping should be removed as soon as possible. Before the asbestos fence removal, performing regular maintenance and repair could be beneficial. However, they should be considered as temporary measures and will still need monitoring.
Poor – removing damaged and leaning panels, or preferably the whole fence, is recommended. Capping should be removed. In most cases, regular repair and maintenance will be insufficient. The health officials may warrant its removal.
Very Poor – removal and replacement of the whole asbestos fence are strongly recommended. In some cases, the government health office may order its removal. Safety precautions, such as placing warning signs and barriers, are also necessary before their pending removal.
Overall, serious consideration of asbestos fence removal is always beneficial regardless of the condition. Replacement will be necessary at some point, and you have the option to have it removed even before it deteriorates further or cost more to remove properly.
Remediation Measures Using Asbestos Professionals
When facing difficult or risky asbestos removal in Perth, it’s highly recommended to seek assistance from asbestos removal professionals, occupational hygienists, or licensed asbestos removal contractors. When looking for companies for residential or commercial asbestos fence removal, you will need to make sure they have an asbestos license from WorkSafe WA by checking it online here.
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