Asbestos

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals. It was commonly used in many building materials before the 1980s because of its durability, fire resistance and insulating properties.

Why is asbestos dangerous?

Inhaling asbestos fibres or even dust containing asbestos fibres has been known to cause lung disease. Special precautions must be taken to reduce exposure to asbestos dust and fibres during its removal.

Do you have asbestos?

Before you start any work, from general maintenance through to renovations and demolition, it is essential that you call in a professional who can tell you if you have asbestos and identify asbestos types.

To find a qualified analyst contact the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) on 1800 621 666.

Do I need to remove asbestos?

In many cases the presence of building materials that contain asbestos is no cause for alarm. Internal asbestos cement sheet walls and ceilings or external asbestos cement roofing and wall cladding do not need to be replaced unless the surfaces have deteriorated.

What precautions should I take?

If residents are considering removing asbestos-containing building materials, the following precautions should be taken:

  • Wear a mask to avoid breathing in any fibres.
  • Wet the asbestos material and keep it damp to stop any loose particles from escaping.
  • Minimise any cutting or breaking of materials to be removed.
  • Double wrap asbestos in polythene sheeting (at least 0.2 mm thick) and keep packages in easy-to-handle sizes.
  • Use adhesive tape to completely cover any package openings.
  • Label packages to indicate the presence of asbestos.
  • Dispose of asbestos at a waste disposal site approved by the EPA.

When do I need to get assistance?

 It is not a good idea to remove loosely bound materials, such as insulation, by yourself if they contain asbestos.

Contact these organisations for professional assistance.

Organisation Telephone Website Information
Department of Health and Human Services 1300 761 874 www.health.vic.gov.au  Enquiries regarding the potential health effects of exposure to asbestos in the home environment
Environment Protection Authority 1300 372 842 www.epa.vic.gov.au For a list of licensed asbestos removalists, disposal sites and enquires relating to the correct disposal of asbestos-containing materials.
WorkSafe Victoria 1800 136 089 www.worksafe.vic.gov.au For a list of licensed asbestos removalists, complaints regarding work carried out by an asbestos removalists and enquires/complaints regarding asbestos in the workplace
National Association of Testing Authorities 1800 621 666 www.nata.asn.au For an NATA accredited laboratory in your area that can identity asbestos