Naturally Occurring Asbestos: A Hazard in Regional Australia
By: Asbestos Awareness
NOA occurs in some rocks, sediments and soils in various regions of NSW, WA, TAS and VIC. If covered and left undisturbed, NOA is not considered dangerous. However, if disturbed and microscopic fibres become airborne, settle on clothing or equipment and can be inhaled, NOA can cause incurable diseases including malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. There is no known safe level of exposure to fibres, although the more fibres inhaled, the greater the health risk.
Clare Collins, National Asbestos Awareness Campaign Director, developed the NOA resources in consultation and in association with government and asbestos and hazardous materials experts said, "In regions where NOA is known, property owners, managers and workers who may disturb the ground surface during their day-to-day work must take appropriate precautions to ensure NOA is identified and managed safely in accordance with regulations.
"The user-friendly Naturally Occurring Asbestos: Asbestos Management Plan Guide explains why people must manage NOA safely, when and where NOA poses a potential health risk, who to contact for advice, and the steps required to manage NOA safely in accordance with Work, Health and Safety Regulations and Asbestos Management Codes of Practice" she said.
"The NOA Guide is free and can be downloaded from http://www.asbestosawareness.com.au/
User-friendly templates are also provided including; property and site-specific risk assessments, incident procedures and reports, worker training records and Fact Sheets on how to use and dispose of Respiratory Protective Equipment, Personal Protective Equipment as well as providing step-by-step decontamination procedures.
John Batty, President of the Asbestos & Hazardous-Materials Consultants Association and Managing Director of EDP Consultants, a global provider of Health, Safety and Environmental Services said, "The risk of asbestos fibre release from the disturbance of NOA is significant. This can be as dangerous as the disturbance of asbestos-containing materials commonly found in homes, sheds and other structures.
"The inhalation of asbestos fibres can potentially lead to the development of asbestos-related diseases such as malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer," he said.
"It's vital that those living and working on properties where NOA has been identified respect the dangers of NOA, follow regulations and ensure sufficient controls are established to limit the disturbance of soils containing NOA to mitigate the risk of asbestos fibre release," Mr Batty said.