Information about asbestos and the correct disposal methods.
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.
To report an asbestos problem in your area, please contact customer service on 1300 635 845 or
+ What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fibrous silicate mineral. It was considered a versatile product, because it is able to withstand heat, erosion and decay and has fire and water resistant properties.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen but only poses a health risk if fibres small enough to be breathed into our lungs, become airborne and are inhaled.
The use of asbestos has been banned in Australia since 31 December 2003.
+ Where is asbestos found?
Asbestos was commonly mixed with cement to form products such as fibro sheets, pipes and gutters and under floor packing. It was also woven into fabric and used for pipe lagging, boiler insulation and loose roof insulation.
Asbestos fibres may also be found in a few older forms of insulation used in domestic heaters and stoves, and in ceiling insulation products. Ceiling insulation containing asbestos was generally only used in commercial buildings.
- Properties built after 1990 are highly unlikely to contain building materials that contain asbestos.
- Properties built between the mid 1980’s and 1990 are likely to contain building materials that contain asbestos.
- Properties built before the mid 1980’s are more than likely to contain building materials that contain asbestos.
+ Can I remove asbestos from my home myself?
Homeowners can remove asbestos cement sheeting themselves if they follow the advice given below. We would recommend that removal of large quantities or the removal of friable asbestos such as thermal and acoustic products ( such as insulation and lagging) be done by a licensed contractor. Details of licensed removalists can be obtained from Department of Commerce (WorkSafe WA) on (08) 9327 8777 or from their website here.
+ Handle and remove asbestos safely
If you intend to remove asbestos then key points to remember are:
- Wet the surface of asbestos material down before commencing work. Low-pressure water hoses are best, as this will wet the surface without blowing asbestos fibres into the air.
- Do not use power tools on any asbestos material. Try and keep the asbestos in one piece. If you need to break any asbestos sheets make sure the surfaces are very wet, to reduce the likelihood of fibres being released into the air.
- Wear suitable personal protective clothing. Disposable coveralls and gloves are best. Wear a P1 or P2 respirator so you don’t inhale any fibres.
- Wash your hands and shower after handling asbestos cement products.
- Dispose of asbestos material at an approved landfill site.
+ Dispose of asbestos products properly
Asbestos material must be separated from other material and wrapped in heavy duty plastic sheeting and taped shut. The sheeting must then be labelled clearly with “Caution Asbestos” on the front. Remember to keep the asbestos sheeting damp whilst wrapping it.
All asbestos material must be disposed of at a landfill or waste disposal site licensed by the Department of Environment regulation. Not all landfill sites accept asbestos.
More information on disposal of asbestos may be found here.
+ Online Training
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.