If you are preparing to renovate your home, you’ll know how many steps are involved in simply getting started.
One vitally important step that should never be overlooked is checking your home for the presence of asbestos. While newer homes built after 2003 when the asbestos ban came into place should be free of this hazard, older homes pose a significant exposure risk.
A serious concern for occupational safety and health reasons, there is strict legislation now in place, Australia-wide, governing how to remove and dispose of asbestos safely.
Before you renovate, we recommend reading through this guide outlining its dangers, where it may be found in older houses, how to identify it and what to do if you discover it.
What is Asbestos and Why is it Dangerous?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely mined in Australia and overseas. A fibrous material made up of silicate crystals, it was used in the manufacturing of building materials for decades before its dangers were realised.
Asbestos fibres are easily released into the air through abrasion such as when cut or broken. These fibres, when inhaled, can cause significant damage to the respiratory system.
Many of those exposed to asbestos develop terminal lung diseases and cancers such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Common Asbestos-Containing Materials in Older Homes
One of the challenges when renovating or demolishing older houses is that asbestos can be present in several different areas.
This includes but is not limited to:
- Vinyl flooring
- Floor tiles
- Asbestos cement sheets (can be found both inside and outside of homes)
- Pipes for plumbing and guttering
- Roof tiles
- Insulation and more
Even small pieces of these materials can release asbestos fibres into the atmosphere where they can cause harm. This is why you should always approach any renovations with caution and take active steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from exposure.
How to Identify Asbestos in Your Home
Due to how widespread asbestos use was in construction, it is essential to properly identify its presence before beginning any renovations.
While asbestos is considered quite a scary thing and for good reason, it is possible to identify it and remove it safely.
Unfortunately, you cannot tell by simply looking at a material if it contains asbestos or not. In Australia, the best practice is to assume any home built or renovated before 1990 is likely to contain asbestos.
This means it is necessary to engage the help of a licensed asbestos professional who can assess your home for asbestos and support you to remove it as needed.
How to Protect Yourself from Asbestos Exposure During Renovations
As indicated above, the best way to protect yourself against asbestos exposure when renovating is to have your home properly assessed before starting work.
If asbestos is discovered in an area that is not being renovated, it is possible to leave it in place – it is only when the fibres are disturbed that they become high-risk.
However, its presence should still be noted and any tradespeople working on-site should be told so they can avoid accidental exposure during the renovation process.
Can I Remove Asbestos Myself When Renovating?
No, not only is this strongly recommended against due to the significant exposure risk, but it is illegal to do so in most states and territories across Australia. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees this and views proper asbestos handling as a priority Australia-wide.
Strict removal processes must be adhered to in order to limit the release of fibres and ensure their complete removal.
Failure to follow your state or territory regulations regarding asbestos, its removal and disposal could see you paying thousands in fines or even facing jail time.
For the health and safety of yourself, those around you, and your community as well as your wallet, never attempt to do this yourself.
How to Dispose of Asbestos Safely
As well as having to be removed by trained and licensed professionals, asbestos must be properly prepared for disposal and taken to an approved facility.
When removing asbestos from your home, these skilled professionals completely seal off the areas to be treated and ensure air conditioning vents, windows or similar are closed so that every fibre is contained.
Full personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn and depending on the type of asbestos being removed a combination of water and vacuum cleaners are used to minimise fibre release and elimination.
All asbestos removed is wrapped in thick plastic sheeting and each item wrapped is fully sealed with tape before being labelled. All PPE and equipment (such as vacuum cleaners) used in the removal process are also disposed of or cleaned to a set standard.
Your licensed removalist will then take all asbestos waste to an approved disposal facility where it will be buried. Asbestos cannot be placed in a regular landfill location as it must remain undisturbed once buried.
Icon Asbestos Removals – Licensed Experts In Brisbane
At Icon Asbestos Removals, we hold the highest level of licensing available for the management of asbestos.
Servicing Brisbane, Redcliffe and the Sunshine Coast we can also travel as far as Rockhampton when required. Our services include asbestos assessment and testing and removal of both friable and non-friable asbestos materials.
Highly skilled and committed to the safety of our clients and team members at all times, we adhere to all legislation and regulations for asbestos removal.
Able to assist with residential, commercial and industrial properties we guarantee efficient, detailed removal with zero compromises on quality.
Renovate the right way and call in the experts. Call today to speak with one of our asbestos specialists or to arrange a visit to your property at 07 3053 3453.