Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate material that becomes a health risk when the fibres are released into the air and breathed in.
It can be found in and around most houses built before 1987. As a homeowner, you need to know what asbestos is and what precautions you must take if you are planning to renovate or make repairs around your home.
Where is asbestos found?
Asbestos fibres were used widely in building materials before the mid-1980s. If your house was built or renovated prior to the late-1980s, it is likely to contain asbestos material.
You cannot identify asbestos in material just by looking at it. The only way to be certain is to have a sample of the material analysed.
Before asbestos containing products were phased out in the late 1980’s and completely banned in Australia in 2003, it was used in more than 3000 common building materials.
Asbestos may be in places you wouldn’t expect, like:
- vinyl tiles and backing
- roof sheeting, including eves and gables
- pipe and pipe insulation
- as well as roofs, ceilings and walls.
To search for products that may contain asbestos you can use the ‘Asbestos Finder’ search function on the NSW Government website.
Asbestos in the home
Finding that your home or workplace is made from fibro products does not mean your health is at risk. If asbestos fibres are in a stable material such as bonded asbestos-cement sheeting or ‘fibro’ sheeting and are in good condition it will not pose a significant health risk.
However, where fibro or other bonded asbestos sheeting is broken, damaged or mishandled, fibres can become loose and airborne posing a risk to health. Disturbing or removing asbestos unsafely can create an increased risk.
If you have materials in your home you suspect may contain asbestos and are concerned with potential health risks, we recommend you treat all potential asbestos containing materials as if they do contain asbestos.
You may wish to seek professional advice or to have your home inspected for asbestos-containing materials by a trained and experienced expert such as an environmental consultant or occupational hygienist if:
- you are planning to renovate your home (renovations can disturb building material)
- your home has damaged building materials (like cracked or weathered cement sheeting)
If the material does contain asbestos these qualified persons can also provide advice on how to manage the risks associated with the material.
For more information, visit the Asbestos Awareness website.
Removal and disposal
It is essential that asbestos products are correctly handled and transported in a safe manner.
It is illegal to dispose of asbestos waste in domestic garbage bins. It is also illegal to re-use, recycle or illegally dump asbestos products.
Contact the NSW EPA's Environment Line for additional information about legally transporting and disposing of asbestos waste. Find out more here.
You must contact Council prior to disposing of asbestos.