The dawning of the Atomic Age following World War Two saw most of the western world enjoying a level of prosperity and care free lifestyles like no other - In fact, 1950s Australia was great; Petrol was cheap, Hawaiian shirts were in fashion and asbestos was rampant. Asbestos, as with most miracle products of bygone years (radium salts, lead paint, cigarettes) was hailed for its seemingly revolutionary approach to building and construction, offering lighter weights, greater structural integrity and having superior insulating and fire retarding properties. Soon, almost every house, school, hospital and business was being constructed out of the versatile asbestos cement board championed by multinationals like James Hardie and CSR.
With little surprise, asbestos managed to make its way into some of Sydney's most recognisable buildings and infrastructure. Previously, the Opera House was found to contain loose fill Asbestos based insulation (among many other things) and now it's The Sydney Harbour Bridge's turn to show us what it's made of.
According to acting Roads Minister Duncan Gay, ongoing maintenance work by Roads and Maritime Services NSW revealed an undisclosed amount of asbestos was discovered at the northern point of the iconic landmark earlier this February. In a statement released this week, Mr Gay reported that “While it is not uncommon for asbestos to be found during infrastructure work, I would expect better procedures and guidelines to be in place for the escalation of findings, I have asked the agency to carry out a full investigation into this incident. This will include monitoring where excess material from the site was taken and how it was remediated.”
These findings are only further evidence of this potentially deadly substances prevalence in Australia, if 300,000 people can cross The Sydney Harbour Bridge each day and be completely oblivious to the structures materials and their potential health risks, just imagine what is lurking in the ordinary Australian home.