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Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that is able to withstand heat, erosion and decay and has fire and water resistant properties. It was as a very widely used building material between the 1950s and 1987. It was often called 'fibro' and included in products like asbestos cement, such as flat or corrugated sheeting, water and flue pipes, insulation, vinyl flooring and casing for electrical wires.
It was so widely used that if your house was built or renovated before 1987 it is likely to contain some asbestos. If you suspect you have asbestos in your building, get it checked by a qualified professional. Never cut, drill sand, scrape, scrub or water blast asbestos products.
When inhaled asbestos poses significant health risks. It can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. You need to be especially careful when handling any material that may contain it.
Before you undertaker home renovations or maintenance visit
Asbestos Awareness or call 1800 Asbestos (1800 272 378) for information, resources and checklists.
It is legal for you to remove and correctly dispose of up to 10m2 of non-friable or bonded asbestos such as fibro, piping etc.
When handling asbestos it is important that you wear the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and don't create extra dust which could be harmful to you and your family. If in doubt, call an expert.
Asbestos Awareness has a Fact Sheet on safe handling.
The material must be disposed of at specific waste sites. Always phone the landfill you plan to visit in advance to ensure they accept household asbestos waste (many also require 24 hours notice of the delivery).
Find a local facility that accepts household quantities.
For more than 10m2 of non-friable asbestos you need to engage a licenced Class A or B asbestos removal contractor. They can provide you with the tipping receipt as proof of correct disposal.
At the completion of the removal you should be provided a Clearance Certificate, issued by an independent competent person. Make sure you only engage a
SafeWork NSW licenced asbestos removal contractor.
For any quantity of friable asbestos (that is any material that contains asbestos and is in the form of a powder or can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry) you need to engage a licenced Class A asbestos removal contractor.
At the completion of the removal you should be provided a Clearance Certificate, issued by a WorkCover NSW licenced asbestos assessor.
Being informed about the risks of asbestos, as well as its proper handling, are important for both home renovators and tradespeople. SafeWork NSW runs the 1800 Asbestos (1800 272 378) hotline as a first point of contact for anyone dealing with this material.
To help assess the risks you can do a
20 Point Asbestos Safety Check.
Find out more at:
For any other matter, or specific questions, contact Council's
Environmental Health and Compliance Unit on