Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were widely used in the manufacturing of residential homes between the mid-1940s and the late 1980s. Australia was one of the highest users per capita up until the mid-1980s. Asbestos products were widely used because they were durable, versatile, fire resistant and had good insulation properties.
If left untouched, asbestos poses no immediate danger.
Asbestos products that are mishandled, broken or disturbed through activities such as pressure cleaning, cutting or sanding and the use of power tools can release hazardous fibres.
Inhaled asbestos fibres can lodge in the airways, lungs or stomach and increase the chances of developing asbestosis, (scarring of lung tissue) mesothelioma or lung cancer. The risk of contracting these diseases increases with the number of fibres inhaled and the length of time you inhale them.
However, you should always take extreme care when dealing with any asbestos product.
Better safe than sorry!
Don't endanger yourself, your family or your neighbours by trying to remove or demolish asbestos yourself. Do not disturb it. Further information for homeowners is available here:
Asbestos fibres are 50-200 times thinner than a human hair, can float in the air for a long time, can be invisible to the naked eye and can be breathed into the lungs.
Therefore it is difficult to identify asbestos by sight, but as a rule, if your house was built:
- before the mid-1980s it is more than likely to contain asbestos materials
- between the mid-1980s and 1990 it is likely to contain asbestos materials
- after the 1990s it is highly unlikely to contain asbestos materials.
The use of ACMs in the home has been extensive and there are many areas in the home where ACMs can be found including (but not limited to):
- roof sheeting and capping
- gables, eaves/soffits water pipes and flues
- wall sheeting (flat or a weatherboard style)
- vinyl sheet flooring
- carpet and tile underlays
- imitation brick cladding
- carports and sheds
- some window putty
- expansion joints
- packing under beams
- concrete formwork
Find more information on common locations of asbestos containing materials in homes at http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/asbestos/know-where/products-gallery.htm
Testing of Asbestos
If you need to arrange testing of samples, information is available here: http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/asbestos/know-where/testing-for-asbestos.htm
Lodging a complaint
If you believe a business, contractor or an occupant at a commercial premises is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos materials, phone the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland on 13 QGOV.
If you believe a homeowner, occupant or owner-builder is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos material or a person has illegally dumped asbestos waste, contact Bundaberg Regional Council on 1300 883 699.
Transport and Disposal of Asbestos
Transport and disposal of asbestos is regulated by the Department Environment and Science (DES). To find the detailed regulations surrounding transport and disposal of asbestos please visit http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/asbestos/removal/transport-and-disposal-of-asbestos-waste.htm
Please note that the transport laws do not apply if you transport less than 175kg of domestic asbestos (less than 10 square meters). You must, however, transport the asbestos safely by;
- Ensuring that your load is doubled bagged in heavy duty 0.2mm polyethylene sheeting, and
- Seling the bagging so as to prevent any airborne particles and contaminated items from escaping.
Council does not apply any additional charges for the disposal of asbestos however residents are advised to contact Council's Waste and Recycling team on 1300 883 699 prior to the disposal of asbestos to inform about:
- Waste facilities authorised to accept asbestos. Read more here: Waste Facility Information Factsheet
- Times asbestos will be accepted
- Packaging requirements of asbestos and asbestos contaminated items
For more information about the handling and disposal of asbestos read Council's factsheet: Guide to Handling and Disposing of Household Asbestos
For more information about the health risks, safe handling and disposal of asbestos including factsheets, guides, posters and videos visit the Queensland Government Asbestos website https://www.asbestos.qld.gov.au/ or phone 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
For more information head to the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency website: https://www.asbestossafety.gov.au/
Don't endanger yourself, your family or your neighbours by trying to remove or demolish asbestos yourself.
If you are renovating your home and you suspect it has asbestos products, we strongly recommend that you contact a certified asbestos contractor. They are licensed to carry out any removal or disposal work safely.
If felt underlay is present under carpets, it is recommended that it is professionally removed and the work site cleaned of all dust in a manner that does not create airborne dust. Access to the site should be restricted to those involved in the work with the necessary safety equipment.
Asbestos removal contractors can also provide a specially lined bin for trades people to use during renovations. Once renovations are completed, the asbestos removal contractors will collect the bin and dispose of asbestos safely for you.
Acquire the services of a licensed asbestos contractor prior to works if you suspect an area has asbestos material. They are listed in the yellow pages and here:
Asbestos Removal- Under 10Sq Metres
Homeowners may remove less than 10 square meters of non-friable (bonded) ACM however you should follow some important steps before commencing the job.