Until the mid-1980s, asbestos was widely used in a range of home building materials. If your house was built or renovated before 1987, it is likely you have asbestos in your home.
Asbestos is considered a versatile product, because it is able to withstand heat, erosion and decay and has fire and water resistant properties. Homeowners need to know what asbestos is and what precautions you should take if you are planning to renovate or make repairs around your home, just in case you come across asbestos.
Removing asbestos is a dangerous and complicated process best carried out by professionals who are licenced, having completed the required training.
Asbestos is a hazardous substance made from fibrous silicate minerals found in some rock formations. Disturbing asbestos may cause fine asbestos fibres to become airborne, which may present a health risk.
When airborne the fibres can be breathed in (through the nose or mouth) and penetrate the deepest part of the lungs causing lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. The occupational exposure standard for all types of asbestos is 0.1 fibres per millilitre of air.
Asbestos diseases can appear or progress after a person is no longer exposed and the delay between first exposure and detection of a disease can be between 25 to 40 years. Asbestos related diseases can be fatal.
Bonded asbestos products may contain white, blue or brown asbestos. The use or re-use of all forms of asbestos is banned in Australia. Asbestos may also be present in dwellings (and other buildings) in the following materials:
- Wet area sheeting (floor & wall);
- Eaves lining;
- Fence panels;
- Water heater flue pipes;
- Packing material under bearers & joists;
- Electrical meter boxes;
- Malthoid waterproofing membrane;
- Fire rated doors; Old vinyl floor tiles;
- Older style space & water heaters;
- Vermiculite; and Other industrial, military and automotive applications.
Repairs and renovations that involve removing, cleaning, cutting, drilling, sanding or painting materials containing asbestos can release dangerous asbestos fibres into the air where they can be inhaled. Licencing Requirements for Removing Asbestos Please visit the links below for the most up to date licencing requirements.
Do I Need Approval?
Yes, if you need to demolish structures made of fibrous cement which contains asbestos you must:
- Obtain development consent prior to undertaking the demolition works
- Carry out demolition work in accordance with the conditions of development consent.
- Ensure that demolition works involving the removal and disposal of asbestos cement greater than 10m2 are only undertaken by contractors who hold a current WorkCover Demolition Licence or a current WorkCover Class 2 (Restricted) Asbestos Licence.
- Provide Council with a clearance certificate from an independent competent person in accordance with the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos be limited to cases involving the removal of friable asbestos.