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A pane in the lungs? Asbestos testing Catch 22

By poetix - 14 June 2012 22

asbestos hazard

Mr Poetix closed a window over-vigorously, and it cracked. Time for new glass.

Problem; our house was built in the 1950s, and according to the window people, the putty around the glass may contain asbestos. This needs to be tested before they will replace the glass. Fair enough. I don’t want anyone getting mesothelioma.

I rang the asbestos testing people. They told me that I must remove a piece of the putty to take to them for testing, enclosed in two snap-lock bags. Now, this strikes me as a little odd. I am expected to do the very thing that the tradesmen won’t do, and risk breathing in loose material potentially containing asbestos, in order to get a sample for it to be tested? They told me that they could not give advice on safe removal.

Is this safe at all? Should I wear a mask? Are poets known for strong lungs? Has anyone else faced this problem? Seriously, I would love any advice on how to safely remove the putty sample, as I have no idea. Otherwise we face a very cold winter with a cracked window.

Thank you, dear rioters.

[Photo by ktheory CC BY 2.0]

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22 Responses to
A pane in the lungs? Asbestos testing Catch 22
Ronnielane 5:43 pm 14 Jun 12

As previously stated the problem is airborne fibres. If the putty is hard or firm you could use mineral turps to soften it. Then scrape it off – you may have apply the turps/scrape several times.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 4:40 pm 14 Jun 12

Highly unlikely there has been asbestos mixed into the putty. Some mastic tape has it in it though.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 4:28 pm 14 Jun 12

Apparently you can collect the putty, dry it in the sun, then chop it up very finely and snort it up your nose. It makes you feel great. Possible side effects include going mental and trying to root a chick up the arse in an alley in civic.

MERC600 2:25 pm 14 Jun 12

andym said :

Maybe you should try another glazier……

Get somebody from outside the ACT, they wouldn’t give a rats about a small bit of putty. Remember years ago when there were mushrooms all over our houses , with contractors removing roof insulation. Richard Carlton took great delight in showing what the Australian taxpayers were forking out in the ACT, while the good residents of Qubyn got a roneo’d sheet telling them how to do it themselves.

niftydog 2:18 pm 14 Jun 12

Disclaimer; I’m not an expert!

Asbestos is only dangerous when the fibres become airborne. Unless the putty is extremely dry or brittle and crumbling into very fine dust I would think it’s reasonably safe. To reduce the chance of dust, spray the area you’re working on with water. The fibres are minuscule which makes regular ‘dust masks’ and old clothes fairly redundant as far as protection goes.

scorpio63 2:14 pm 14 Jun 12

Contact a Painter Poetix – they are used to dealing with asbestos regularly and the one I use does a great deal more than painting and plugging holes, he is handy with carpentry too and grateful for all types of work!

Postalgeek 2:12 pm 14 Jun 12

There’s asbestos throughout the older suburbs. I suspect removing a small sample with a knife will not significantly increase your exposure beyond what you’ve already been exposed to.

If you want to be on the extra extra safe side, just go to Bunnings or a tradie shop, buy a half mask that takes P1/P2 dust particle filter cartridges. It’s good to have one of those masks anyway for when you are doing clean-outs; there can be a lot of nasty stuff in dust apart from asbestos like rodent fecal matter and dried chemicals.

And maybe some disposable gloves and a disposal painter’s suit. But I think it’s probably overkill. Personally I’d just get a knife and gouge a bit straight in to a bag.

Anyway, here’s a link that might help you:

http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/formspublications/publications/documents/working_with_asbestos_guide_5484%5B1%5D.pdf

andym 1:55 pm 14 Jun 12

Maybe you should try another glazier……

poetix 12:25 pm 14 Jun 12

zander said :

I think you’re being a bit melodramatic, gettting a small sample one time would not pose any significant risk. The glazier doesn’t want to do it as they deal with it day in day out, which over time would pose a significant risk. (think of the doctor and nurse hiding behind a screeen when you get an x-ray). How much does getting the test cost? I’d be inclined to just remove all the putty myself if the test price was too high.

Moi, melodramatic! Surely you jest! (Faints.)

Thank you everyone for your advice. Most people tend to confirm my idea that this is a tad silly. If I do it myself I will do as Clown Killer says, and wear really old clothes I can dispose of. (And hope no-one thinks they’re worth rescuing.)

A_Cog said :

Get ready for even more stupidity poetix…
The rules for asbestos in the ACT are that you can get it assessed by asbestos assessors (and pay $65 or more for that assessment), but the assessor cannot be an asbestos removalist (or vice versa).

Does this mean that there are also people who you can pay to do little jobs like removing a putty sample?

Duffbowl 11:29 am 14 Jun 12

A_Cog said :

Get ready for even more stupidity poetix…
The rules for asbestos in the ACT are that you can get it assessed by asbestos assessors (and pay $65 or more for that assessment), but the assessor cannot be an asbestos removalist (or vice versa).

How ridiculous that such token red tape exists for something that can kill you. It would be funnier if it wasn’t true.

I can understand this; it’s along the same lines as don’t get your accountant to audit your books. A tester may be tempted to say it contains asbestos, and recommend that they should remove it immediately.

A_Cog said :

The ACT Government should have a bunch of mobile inspectors who come, assess, and remove. They could tie this to their own internal asbestos register, so as homes change ownership, new owners aren’t forced to go through the same process as previous owners of discovering they live in a death-trap.

This makes sense. The only issues I can see are the usual ones: increased bureaucracy; timeliness; increased cost.

Clown Killer 11:21 am 14 Jun 12

For my two cents worth …

Treat the stuff as if it was asbestos – wear a good quality mask, gloves and old clothes that you can chuck if you get any on you – and remove it yourself.

If ou get it tested and the results come back positive then you will know for sure and you DO NOT want to know for sure.

A_Cog 11:02 am 14 Jun 12

Get ready for even more stupidity poetix…
The rules for asbestos in the ACT are that you can get it assessed by asbestos assessors (and pay $65 or more for that assessment), but the assessor cannot be an asbestos removalist (or vice versa).

How ridiculous that such token red tape exists for something that can kill you. It would be funnier if it wasn’t true.

The ACT Government should have a bunch of mobile inspectors who come, assess, and remove. They could tie this to their own internal asbestos register, so as homes change ownership, new owners aren’t forced to go through the same process as previous owners of discovering they live in a death-trap.

zander 10:41 am 14 Jun 12

I think you’re being a bit melodramatic, gettting a small sample one time would not pose any significant risk. The glazier doesn’t want to do it as they deal with it day in day out, which over time would pose a significant risk. (think of the doctor and nurse hiding behind a screeen when you get an x-ray). How much does getting the test cost? I’d be inclined to just remove all the putty myself if the test price was too high.

Zeital 9:58 am 14 Jun 12

Seems a bit counter intuitive that they need to get a sample off you when you suspect it to be asbestos…. my guess would be a mask, and some disposable tweezers?

eh_steve 9:41 am 14 Jun 12

I don’t know the content well enough to point you to a particular part of the site, but you may find looking through through asbestos.act.gov.au to be useful.

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