Did you know? One-third of houses in Australia contain asbestos products. Because we are all about safe renovation procedures, we have created a fact sheet for those who are planning to renovate their home, including how to identify and safely dispose of it. When looking to renovate a home, there will always be concerns and things you have to research before you can begin. The disposal of asbestos within your ‘ready to renovate’ home can be quite a costly and complicated process. Read through this fact sheet to familiarise yourself and educate yourself on best practices that are going to keep your house and family safe.
What is asbestos?Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals found in rock formations that are combined with thin fibres. These strong and heat resistant fibres are usually combined with a variety of other minerals, such as cement to create building materials. Although they cannot be seen with the naked eye, they fibres can become airborne and remain so for a long period of time. The ability for the fibres to travel through the air, and for a long time, means that the material can be quite dangerous if inhaled. Once inhaled, the particles can remain in your lungs and cause inflammation, which can then lead to diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural disorders and mesothelioma. Renovating parts of your home that contain asbestos fibres can put you and others in high risk of contracting these diseases later in life.
What does asbestos look like?Asbestos can be extremely hard to identify as it can come in a number of different colours and textures. Raw asbestos fibres can be white, grey, brown and blue, and can be fluffy, bristles and flexible in their texture. In cases where you are unsure, it is always best to get the material tested.
Is it in my home?Asbestos stopped being mined in Australia in 1983. By the mid 80’s import of blue and brown asbestos was banned and finally all forms of asbestos were banned by 2003. Houses built before the 1990s are most likely to have high amounts of asbestos present, and it is probably best to avoid houses built within this time. Any houses built after this period are less likely to contain asbestos-containing products. Itb is a common misconception that asbestos is mainly only present in ‘fibro’ homes, however it may be present in any type of building. The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency estimates around one-third of all houses built in Australia contain asbestos products. Areas where asbestos may be typically found in your home:
- Exterior roof and walls
- Bathroom, laundry and toilet
- Living areas
- Fences, garages
- Spray applied insulation
- Valve jackets
Dealing with asbestos in your homeIf you think that there are traces of asbestos in your home, there are a couple of measure that you can take.
- If the materials were installed before 1990, it is best to assume that it contains asbestos. If in doubt, you should always just get it tested. The National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) can provide details of an accredited laboratory in your area where asbestos can be identified accurately. Cost for testing varies between laboratories.
- If planning to handle or dispose asbestos from your home, it is important to remember these few key points:
- Isolate the area you are working in and cover the floors with heavy duty plastic
- Make sure the area is well ventilated
- Keep household members, visitors or neighbours away from the isolated area until work is complete
- Be sure to wear an appropriate respirator (an ordinary dust mask will not be enough)
- Minimise cutting or breaking of the material and always place it on the ground slowly and carefully. DO NOT THROW around the material.