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Asbestos in Carpet Underlay

Date Added: November 21, 2011 04:36:35 PM
Author: ozrat
Category: Asbestos Resources and Information

Many of us home renovators are totally unaware of hidden asbestos hazards in our homes.  One of those totally missed by most is a potential hazard of asbestos underlay, or should we say asbestos fibres contained within hessian asbestos underlay.

It has been found that many hessian bags (prior to the 1970’s) that have been used to transport raw asbestos in have been recycled in to the carpet underlay. Recycling is something that we all value and attempt to do in our every day life, however in the case of the hessian bags it has gone terribly wrong.

Hessian bags that have been used to transport wool, potatoes, and fertilisers, unfortunately hessian bags used to transport raw asbestos have all been recycled together to form a hard wearing and cheap carpet underlay alternative. At the time an attempt has been made to “clean” the contaminated bags of the asbestos fibres however it is unknown as to the quantity of asbestos fibres that made their way to the final product.

The underlay has ended up in many Australian homes, lining our floors and for many years exposing adults and children alike to asbestos fibres.

Some of us may think that all of this asbestos spiked underlay is long gone, well think again; there are still older style homes with old carpets in place hiding the deadly surprise. This is not to say that we need to panic when the hessian carpet is discovered in your home, as many tests conducted by government agencies did not find asbestos fibres in a large proportion of underlay samples taken.   

So what do we do when we pull up an old carpet and see hessian or hessian like material? Well I know what I would suggest, get rid of it, don’t ignore it as the asbestos fibres can make their way trough the old carpet and become air borne, this is not something we want to see (not that we could) floating in the air we breath.

When we discover a suspect hessian underlay we don’t have too many options (safe options that is). We can take samples of the underlay and send it of for analysis or call professionals to remove the hessian underlay. Tests may not find any fibres but this could be due to not having enough sampling material or the samples taken were from areas that were not contaminated or compromised.

The only safe option for you and your family is to have the underlay removed, with the carpet by a professional asbestos removal company; they have the experience, equipment and are licensed to deal with asbestos contaminants. They will also supply you with a certificate at the completion of the job stating that the asbestos has been safely removed and the whole area decontaminated.

Renovating can be a lot of fun (not to mention hard work), but don’t let it kill you, quietly...