Asbestos Removal FAQs: Essential Guide for Safety

Asbestos, once hailed as a wonder material for its fire resistance, insulation, and durability, saw widespread use in Australian construction projects for several decades.

However, by the turn of the century, the dire health risks associated with exposure to asbestos fibres became alarmingly evident, leading to its ban in Australia in 2003.

In this article, we’re going to discuss asbestos use, and issues and answer common asbestos removal questions that you may have.

Health Risks of Asbestos

Exposure to airborne asbestos fibres is linked to severe health conditions like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. These conditions arise when the tiny asbestos fibres are inhaled and become lodged in the lungs, leading to long-term damage.

With asbestos-related illness and asbestos disease becoming increasingly prevalent among those exposed, it’s vital to recognise and address the presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in buildings.

How is Asbestos Identified?

One of the primary challenges with asbestos is its inconspicuous presence.

It can be identified in various building materials, from asbestos cement roofs to insulation and many other things in between.

For homeowners, identifying asbestos is crucial, especially in older structures. If unsure, it’s always recommended to seek a professional asbestos survey to confirm the presence and type, be it friable asbestos or non-friable asbestos.

Regulations and Guidelines

Australia has strict asbestos regulations, enforced by bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency.

There’s a legal responsibility for property owners to manage and, if necessary, remove and dispose of asbestos safely. An asbestos management plan is recommended for commercial premises, detailing the presence and management strategy of ACMs.

Safe Removal Procedures Asbestos removal is a meticulous process that demands expertise. Whether you’re dealing with asbestos materials in your roof space or asbestos insulation, understanding the removal process is essential.

  1. Risk Assessment: Before any removal work, a comprehensive assessment identifies potential hazards and the extent of contamination.
  2. Safety Precautions: Workers don protective clothing, including personal protective equipment, ensuring minimal exposure to asbestos dust.
  3. Containment: The area is sealed off to prevent the release of asbestos fibres into the surroundings.
  4. Removal: Using power tools with HEPA filters and avoiding practices that might release fibres, like using high-pressure water on asbestos cement, the asbestos material is safely removed.
  5. Air Monitoring: Continuous air monitoring ensures the concentration of airborne asbestos fibres remains below safety limits.
  6. Disposal Protocols: After removing asbestos, proper disposal is paramount. The asbestos waste should be sealed in plastic bags and labelled appropriately. Australia mandates disposing of this waste in designated asbestos waste facilities. It’s crucial to check local laws and consult the local council for guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Asbestos Removal

Here are some of the most common questions we’re asked as professional asbestos removalists:

Why is asbestos considered hazardous?

Asbestos contains tiny, needle-like fibres that, when released into the air and inhaled, can become lodged in the lungs.

Over time, these fibres can cause inflammation, and scarring, and eventually lead to serious respiratory diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

The more prolonged and frequent the exposure to asbestos fibres, the higher the risk of developing these health conditions.

Can I remove asbestos from my property by myself?

While it’s legally possible for homeowners to remove a certain amount of non-friable asbestos (like asbestos cement) themselves, it’s strongly discouraged.

Improper handling can lead to the release of asbestos fibres, posing significant health risks to you and others.

For larger quantities or friable asbestos, using a licensed asbestos removalist is mandatory in many areas. It’s always safer and more effective to rely on trained professionals with the appropriate equipment and expertise.

How can I identify if my home contains asbestos materials?

If your home was built before the 1980s, there’s a chance it contains asbestos, especially in asbestos-containing material products like insulation, roofing, and tiling.

Materials like asbestos cement or asbestos insulation have a distinct appearance. However, the surest way to determine the presence of asbestos is through professional testing.

An asbestos survey can take samples from suspected areas and have them analysed in a lab.

Are there safe alternatives to asbestos in construction today?

Yes, with the known dangers of asbestos, several safer alternatives have been developed for construction.

These materials offer similar benefits in terms of insulation and fire resistance without the associated health risks. Products made from fibreglass, cellulose, and other synthetics have become common replacements.

What should I do if I accidentally disturb asbestos-containing materials?

Firstly, stop what you’re doing immediately and clear the area. Limit any exposure to asbestos dust or debris and avoid inhaling it. Wet the area lightly to suppress any airborne fibres, and seal off the room if possible. It’s essential to contact an asbestos removalist or professional to assess and handle the situation.

How should asbestos waste be disposed of?

Asbestos waste needs to be handled with care. It should be double-bagged in thick plastic bags, sealed tightly, and clearly labelled as hazardous. Disposal must be done at designated asbestos waste facilities. Dumping asbestos illegally can lead to hefty fines and pose a serious health risk to others.

You can also contact professional asbestos removal companies for the disposal of asbestos that you have removed yourself.

Do I need any specific permits or approvals before asbestos removal?

In Australia, depending on the state and the amount and type of asbestos being removed, specific permits or notifications might be necessary.

For comprehensive removal jobs, especially involving friable asbestos, an asbestos removal licence is often required. It’s essential to check with local council regulations and national guidelines to ensure compliance.

Contact Australia’s Leading Asbestos Removalists Today

Australia’s battle with its asbestos legacy continues, but with heightened awareness, strict regulations, and professional intervention, we can mitigate the health risks. Remember, when in doubt about the presence of asbestos-containing materials, always consult a professional. Prioritising health and safety today can prevent severe illnesses in the future. At Asbestos Australia, we can help you. We not only help to identify asbestos-containing materials, but we ensure that safe and effective removal of asbestos is performed as well. Call us today on 03 9704 2952  to discuss your situation.

Tommy Clappers

Tommy Clappers

Tommy Clappers is the Owner and Founder of Asbestos Australia Removalist specialising as a Class A & B Licensed Company with highly trained ticketed staff with over 25+ years in the industry in Friable & Non-Friable Commercial, Industrial & Domestic. He's well-skilled in all types of Asbestos Removal and Hazardous Materials. He's an expert in Encapsulation, Soil Remediation and Industrial Cleaning. He prides himself on creating safer environments for his team and his client's safety and ensuring every removal is safe and clean. He currently resides in Melbourne, Australia.

Posted By: Tommy Clappers

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