Asbestos and asbestos containing materials are a hot topic among local residents. Please see the links below for the relevant information relating to asbestos.
What is asbestos and where is it found?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that was widely used in building materials up to 1987. It is commonly found in materials such as roofing, shingles and siding, fencing, exterior wall cladding, backing material on floor tiles and vinyl flooring, in textured paints and in or around water or flue pipes.
Health effects from asbestos containing materials
Generally if left undisturbed, asbestos cement products do not pose a health risk as its fibres are bound together in a solid cement matrix. However, if the material is damaged or disturbed it may release fibres into the air which may be dangerous to your health if inhaled. Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres can be the cause of serious diseases such as Asbestosis, Pleural Plaque, Lung Cancer and the incurable and directly related Mesothelioma.
Whilst asbestos is a highly hazardous substance, the risk of developing an asbestos related disease is dependant on the total number of fibres inhaled. The majority of people who developed asbestos related diseases have been exposed to relatively large numbers of fibres, usually as a result of contact with the material in their occupation.
Identifying asbestos in and around your home or workplace
Generally, asbestos cannot be identified by simply by looking at it. Careful visual examination and the use of a microscope is the only way to verify the presence of asbestos. If you need assistance with asbestos identification, look in the yellow pages under ‘analysts’ for a NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia) accredited laboratory that can confirm the presence of asbestos in a product. If you know that a material or product was installed in your home or place of work prior to 1988, treat the suspect material as though it does contain asbestos.
You do not need a licence to handle asbestos, however asbestos material must be handled and disposed of in accordance with the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992. Demolition workers, construction workers, and asbestos removalists are also bound by the requirements set by the Regulations, WorkSafe, the Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Conservation.
Asbestos cement products must be removed with minimal breakage, and arranged so that two to three sheets are stacked on polythene sheeting, fully sealed, and then taken to an approved waste disposal facility. It is important to contact the chosen suitable asbestos disposal facility before your visit to verify the conditions for disposal. For a list of approved sites, please contact the Department of Environment and Conservation on 6467 5000.
It is important when removing or handling asbestos containing materials that you:
- Wet the surface of asbestos material down before commencing removal;
- Do not use power tools on any asbestos material;
- Wear suitable personal protective clothing; and
- Dispose of asbestos material at an approved landfill site.
Please read the Department of Health’s fact sheet “Asbestos Cement Products in Your House” (link below) and/or contact the Department of Health on 9388 4999 if you require any further information on safe asbestos removal.
Home renovators are being encouraged to extend their ‘DIY’ skills and go online for a free learning course on identifying and safely handling asbestos.
Cancer Council WA and the Environmental Health Directorate of the Department of Health have launched a free online course, kNOw Asbestos In Your Home, where home renovators and DIYers can learn about locating, safely handling and disposing of asbestos as well as learning more about asbestos-related diseases.
Exposure to asbestos fibres increases the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Australia has the highest per-capita rate of asbestos diseases in the world and rates of malignant mesothelioma continue to climb, particularly those associated with home maintenance and renovation.
All home renovators should be mindful that there are some jobs that they should not try to take on themselves and that there are rules around the amount of asbestos they can handle.
Complaints about Asbestos
Please note that it is the responsibility of an owner or occupier to ensure asbestos is handled, removed and/or disposed of correctly and safely on their property. This is also to the cost of the owner or occupier.
If you wish to report suspected illegal asbestos removal or asbestos dumping within the Town of Mosman Park, please contact the Town’s Environmental Health Officer on 9384 1633.
Further information can be found via the links below:
- WA Department of Environment and Conservation publication:
- Disposal of Material Containing Asbestos
- WA Department of Health publications:
- Asbestos Cement Products in the Home .
- Asbestos Issues – Who Do You Call? .
- WA Department of Health website (Asbestos), please click here .