As the extent of asbestos risks became known, public awareness of this dangerous material spread quite rapidly. Nowadays, most people know that the presence of asbestos needs extra care and special handling when it may be disturbed, as it's linked to diseases of the lungs including cancer.
Because of how well-known the dangers are, you'd probably assume asbestos is no longer used as a material. Much of the publicity has centred on the fact it used to be a common building material up until the 1980s, with the risks highest when demolishing or altering houses built before then.
However, you may be surprised to learn some of the places asbestos can be found, including those produced long after the '80s were over.
Building materials up to the end of 2003
Although asbestos use began to fall out of favour towards the end of the 1980s, that doesn't mean that its use was discontinued entirely. Many manufacturing companies were responsible enough to find alternative materials, but not all of them.
On the 31st December 2003, a law came into force banning asbestos from being used or imported in Australia, which is far more recent than many people think. Because of this, it's a good idea to assume it could be present in any buildings constructed or altered up until this date, or in materials manufactured before then.
Certain cheap materials
Asbestos use may have been banned in Australia at the end of 2003, but in many other places around the world, it's still in use. The ban covers imports, but there are always people willing to try and get around the law if there's money in it for them.
There's been a particular problem noted in building materials originating in China, where documents may state there's no asbestos used, but tests have found otherwise. The kinds of materials especially likely to have asbestos are insulation, corrugated sheets, and roof tiles.
There are actually many different vehicle parts where asbestos has been used, with the most well-known being brake pads. This is, of course, still covered by the ban in Australia, but it's another area where people will try and dodge the law, with some of them bound to succeed.
Remember, too, that vehicles imported before 2004 won't have been subject to the ban, so if you're working on renovating or repairing a vehicle that came into the country prior to then, make sure you're aware of the risk and consider having the pads tested by an asbestos removal company.