Information to residents on managing asbestos

Information on the handling and disposal of asbestos

Quicklinks

Asbestos Guide for Householders - This guide provides useful information to enable householders to sensibly and safely manage the risks arising from any occasional encounters with asbestos materials in and around their homes

Local Council fact sheet - The NSW Government and Workcover have developed guidance material for use by councils regarding asbestos

Grafton Regional Landfill Asbestos Acceptance Requirements - Information on the requirements to dispose of asbestos.

Background

Inhalation of asbestos fibers poses a risk to health. It is a carcinogen, known to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.

Repairs and renovations that involve removing, cleaning, cutting, drilling, sanding or painting materials containing asbestos can release dangerous fibres into the air where they can be inhaled.

There are two commonly used forms of asbestos product:

  1. friable asbestos material means any material that contains asbestos and is in the form of a powder or can be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry.  
  2. bonded asbestos material means any material (other than friable asbestos material) that contains asbestos.

In the past asbestos was used in around 3000 products manufactured world-wide, most commonly in the construction, car manufacturing and textile industries. Perhaps the most commonly used asbestos product in Australia from the 40's until the late 80's was "fibro" a bonded asbestos product containing around 15% asbestos. Fibro was widely used as wall and ceiling sheeting in houses and other structures because of its strength and resistance to heat and salt air. It has been used even in brick structures under the eaves and as internal linings especially in bathrooms and laundries.

In addition to fibro sheeting, bonded asbestos was used in roofing and as fencing panels ("supersix") guttering, pipes, floor and ceiling tiles.

Asbestos was also used as an insulation material, as a fire retardant, in gaskets, in brake linings and as a filtering material.

The use of asbestos has gradually been phased out with all forms of asbestos use discontinued in 2003.

Fibro if in good condition presents minimal risk when left undisturbed. Broken, badly weathered or damaged bonded asbestos material may release fibers that present a risk to health and should be removed, or sealed so as to prevent release of asbestos fiber.

Home renovators need to be particularly aware of this material, that when cut drilled or broken can present the risks to health abovementioned, especially if working in a confined space. Others may be at risk when cleaning up, and if not cleaned up it may continue to remain a danger.

The only way to confirm whether a material contains asbestos is to have it analyzed by one of the National Association of Testing Laboratories (NATA) laboratories accredited for this type of testing.

Asbestos Removal and Disposal

Since 1 January 2008 a bonded asbestos license has been required in NSW to remove more than 10 square meters of bonded asbestos material. Licensing for asbestos removal is regulated and administered in NSW by WorkCover NSW and people using contractors should request to sight the current license before employing a contractor.

Certain demolition work involves the need for approval from Council and licensing from WorkCover NSW. If in doubt, ask. Council officers are authorized under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and other legislation to enforce the provisions of the legislation where work is done other than in accordance with an approval or where there has been a specific breach of the legislation. Substantial penalties can apply.

Don't become an asbestos victim. Take care when renovating, painting or working with asbestos.

Other Websites