Asbestos products are still found in many buildings and are not dangerous if kept in good condition. However, if an asbestos product is broken or disturbed in any way, it is extremely hazardous. The material can cause fatal diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Asbestos and materials containing asbestos were widely produced and used in Australia between the 1940’s and 1980’s. It was used in a number of products as it is strong, flexible and is highly resistant to heat and chemical attack. Manufacturing, processing, sale, storage and re-use of asbestos and materials containing asbestos is now prohibited in Australia. If your property contains asbestos-based materials they must be removed by a licensed professional before any other work begins.
Asbestos materials are either bonded (tightly bound) or friable (loosely bound). Bonded asbestos materials are commonly found in houses and often known as ‘fibro’, ‘asbestos cement’ and ‘AC sheeting’. Friable asbestos was mostly used in commercial and industrial settings for fire-proofing, sound-proofing and insulation.
You cannot tell if a material contains asbestos by simply looking at it, so treat doubtful material as if it does contain the mineral. Asbestos can be found in:
- Corrugated roofing
- Wall cladding
- Thermal Insulation
- Electricity and gas meter boxes
- Vinyl and linoleum flooring
- Asbestos-insulated wiring
- Hot-water systems
- Fibro sheet fencing.
Removal of Asbestos
If you suspect you have asbestos in your building, get it checked by a qualified professional.
If your property contains asbestos-based materials they must be removed by a licensed professional before any other work begins. If you have any asbestos products stored or used at your property, it is illegal to use or re-use these products. They should be disposed of by a licensed professional. Protective control measures are required when asbestos products are disturbed.
A Class B WorkCover-licensed removalist must be engaged if you are removing more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos material.
A Class A WorkCover-licensed removalist must be engaged when removing any friable asbestos.
Asbestos waste must be taken to a certified waste facility. Locations of licensed asbestos disposal site can be found at the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. Always contact the landfill beforehand to find out whether asbestos is accepted and under what conditions. The maximum penalties for owners and transporters breaking the rules are $1 million for corporations and $250,000 for an individual.
Contact WorkCover NSW to apply for a permit for the demolition or removal of asbestos. They can also help you find a qualified professional.
Tips for managing existing asbestos on your property
- Waste must be stored on the premises in an environmentally safe manner.
- Bonded asbestos material must be securely packaged at all times.
- Friable asbestos material must be kept in a sealed container.
- Asbestos-contaminated soils must be wetted down.
- All asbestos waste must be transported in a covered, leak-proof vehicle.
- Asbestos waste must be disposed of at a landfill site that can lawfully receive this waste.
- It is illegal to dispose of asbestos waste in domestic garbage bins.
- It is also illegal to re-use, recycle or illegally dump asbestos products.
Asbestos Awareness Month
The City of Botany Bay strongly supports Asbestos Awareness Month.
November is national Asbestos Awareness Month. In the lead-up to Asbestos Awareness Day (Friday 28 November) all Australians especially homeowners, renovators tradies and handymen need to “Get to know Asbestos” this November by visiting www.asbestosawareness.com.au and take the 20 Point Asbestos Safety Check to learn how to protect themselves and families from exposure to dangerous asbestos fibres. Whether a home is constructed of weatherboard, brick, fibro or has exterior cladding, asbestos can be found in and around most homes built or renovated before 1987. Asbestos can be found in kitchens, bathrooms, laundries and under floor covering, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, garages, ceilings, eaves, fences, extensions to homes, and backyard sheds… it could be anywhere. Don’t play renovation roulette!