Asbestos was used widely in the construction industry until the 1970s and could be in any home built or renovated before 1987.
Key facts about asbestos in the home
- Every home built or renovated in the years leading up to 1987, most likely will contain asbestos.
- A conservative estimate is that 1 in 3 homes in Australia contain asbestos, including brick.
- If asbestos is undisturbed, it generally does not pose a health risk.
- Many Australians may unknowingly be putting their health and the health of their children and neighbours at risk because they don't really understand the dangers of working with asbestos or know where it might be found in and around their home.
- During renovations or the demolition of homes containing asbestos, asbestos fibres can be realeased into the air and be inhaled leading to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
- Not only homes constructed of fibro contain asbestos.
- Asbestos may be found in every room in the home - behind wall and floor tiles, in walls, ceilings, under lino and carpet and around hot water systems.
- Only scientific testing of a sample of material by an accredited National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) asbestos testing laboratory can confirm the prescence of asbestos.
For information on testing and accredited laboratories in your area, visit the National Association of Testing Authorities website at: www.nata.asn.au
Renovating your home
If your home was built or renovated before 1987, asbestos products may be in your home(348KB, PDF) .
Whether your home is constructed of weatherboard, brick, fibro or cladding, asbestos can be found in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, under floor coverings, behind walls and floor tiles, on the roof or in the eaves. Asbestos was also commonly used for insulating around hot water piping and tanks, as loose roof insulation, or as backing for electrical meter boards.
So before you renovate, visit www.asbestosawareness.com.au (or any of the related links) to learn where asbestos might be found in your home, the dangers of disturbing it and how best to manage it.
Please be aware that if more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos needs to be removed, you must engage a bonded asbestos removalist who is licensed by WorkCover.
Most building or demolition work requires some form of approval, so before you commence any home renovations or demolition, contact us on 4645 4000 to see if you need a development consent or complying development certificate.
Before you remove any asbestos, advise your neighbours of the time and date of removal, and the name of the licensed removalist.
For more information, see WorkCover's Working with asbestos guide (catalogue no. WC05484).
Asbestos is classified as a hazardous material. There are strict guidelines about how it should be packaged and transported, and where it can be disposed.
All asbestos must be specially wrapped, labelled and disposed of, as soon as possible, at a facility that can lawfully receive asbestos waste.
The dangers of asbestos
- In the mid 1970s the dangers of asbestos became evident and it was gradually replaced by alternative products.
- In 2003 it was banned entirely and can no longer be used, recycled or imported.
Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA)
In August 2011 the NSW Government announced the establishment of the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA).
The HACA charter aims to ensure that the NSW Government agencies and local councils coordinate the safe management of asbestos at all stages of the asbestos life cycle and across the policy areas of workplace health and safety, public health and environment protection.
Frequently asked questions
The HACA have developed a list of FAQs and answers to assist the public in dealing with asbestos.
A hotline number is available to provide free advice and guidance on asbestos related issues. 1800 Asbestos (1800 272 378) provides a central point of contact for making enquiries about asbestos and calls will be answered by the SafeWork NSW Customer Contact Centre staff who regularly manage general asbestos enquiries.