Before it was banned by the Australian government in 2003, asbestos based products were a commonly used building material. Today, 15 years on from the ban, asbestos is still found in most Australian homes that have been built or renovated before 1990.
As a result, asbestos can be found everywhere from walls, to underneath tiles, in pipe insulation, in wall cladding, in fencing and even in roofing - which was the most common use for asbestos up until the 1980’s.
Asbestos roofing products include asbestos cement shingles and corrugated asbestos fibre and cement sheets; the former of which saw use in Australia for over 40 years and is often referred to as ‘Super Six’.
The name Super Six is used colloquially to refer to all corrugated cement building materials; however, Super Six is technically a popular brand of corrugated cement sheeting products created by building product manufacturer James Hardie. James Hardie ceased manufacturing Super Six in 1985.
Today, James Hardie continues to make cement fibre products, although obviously these new cement fibre products contain no asbestos.
As well as roofing, super six was also used to construct garden walls and as fencing.
Super Six is generally white to grey in colour (however it was often painted) and is hard and brittle.
Although super six is classed as a non-friable asbestos product because the dangerous asbestos fibres are encased in cement, this classification isn’t always accurate.
After prolonged exposure to the weather the cement in Super Six can wear down, exposing and releasing the dangerous asbestos fibres contained within. These fibres could become airborne and inhaled or fall to the ground and make their way into local waterways.
If super six, or any product containing asbestos for that matter, are found in your home they must be removed before demolition can begin. Each piece of a material containing asbestos must be removed by hand, being careful not to damage or break it. The discarded asbestos is then wrapped in plastic and placed in a skip so it can be taken offsite and legally disposed of.