Asbestos Awareness month
November is national Asbestos Awareness month. Asbestos Awareness month aims to alert Australians to the dangers of working with asbestos during home renovations and maintenance. For more information visit asbestosawareness.com.au or download the 20 point asbestos safety check (pdf, 604KB).
Asbestos was commonly used in building materials before the early 1980s because of its durability, fire resistance and excellent insulating properties.
Generally, its presence in home building products is not a health risk unless the asbestos is disturbed, which produces fibres or dust containing asbestos particles.
Airborne asbestos fibres have been linked to various lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. Most asbestos-related diseases are generally associated with long-term exposure to asbestos in an occupational setting. Therefore, exposure to asbestos fibres or dust containing asbestos should be kept to a minimum.
Asbestos in your home
The presence of asbestos-containing building materials in the home is no cause for alarm providing the materials are in good condition and not broken. For example, internal asbestos-cement sheet walls or ceiling do not pose a risk to health provided that they are in good condition and coated with paint. Similarly, external asbestos-cement roofs and wall cladding are not considered to be dangerous provided they are not broken or punctured in any way and provided they have not deteriorated.
Read our tips on handling Asbestos
If a building permit is required to demolish a building, structure or outbuilding, you will have to find out if asbestos is present in the building before a building permit is granted.
The Occupational Health and Safety (Asbestos) Regulations 2003 regulates how asbestos should be removed and by whom. Except in limited circumstances, only licensed asbestos removalists can remove and dispose asbestos.
Call WorkSafe Victoria on 1800 136 089 for an approved asbestos removalist or you can also contact a licensed professional from the Yellow Pages.
Limited removal may be carried out without a license provided:
- the asbestos-containing material is not fragile; and
- the area to be removed is less than 10 square metres in total; and
- the removal is not undertaken for more than one hour in any period of seven days.
If you are removing asbestos yourself, you must comply with part 13 of the Moonee Valley General Purposes Local Law 2008 (pdf, 177KB).
However, it is recommended that asbestos is only removed by a licensed professional.
For loosely-bound asbestos-containing materials (eg. insulation) it is not advisable for residents to do the work themselves due to the increased health risk in handling such material.
Asbestos waste is only allowed to be disposed at sites licensed by the Environment Protection Authority. License conditions require the asbestos waste to be handled and covered in a way that no asbestos dust is generated.
Homeowners do not require a specially permitted vehicle when taking small amounts of waste to the disposal site but should follow practices to avoid releasing or spreading dust.
For more information on handling domestic asbestos, check with the Environment Protection Authority.
Suspect an asbestos risk?
If you suspect a site may pose an asbestos health risk, complete our online asbestos concern form or call our Environmental Health unit on 9243 8888.
Want to know more?
For more information, read our asbestos removal factsheet (pdf, 76kb) or call our Building Services team on 9243 8888 for a current list of VTHC-recognised asbestos removalists.