Asbestos is a health risk if it becomes airborne.
Asbestos is a fibrous material that, when broken, easily breaks down into very small microfibers of 4 µm or less. When these invisible fibres are airborne (friable) they are easily inhaled and become lodged deep in the lungs, causing fibrosis (scarring) of the lung, resulting in a slow painful death for which there is no current cure.
Here in New Zealand, approximately 150 people died each year of asbestos related conditions between 1999 and 2010.
The 2013 Ministry of Innovation and Business report – Work Related Disease in New Zealand stated:
“We estimate that at least 170 people died in 2010 from asbestos-related diseases, including the cancers’ mesothelioma and lung cancer and the respiratory disease asbestosis. The number of mesothelioma death’s have increased dramatically since 1999. While preventative measures are too late for this wave of asbestos-related death’s, this data is a timely reminder of the toll of exposure to asbestos. It also reinforces the need to ensure present-day exposure to asbestos is prevented.”