Asbestos Awareness Week 19-25 November 2018
19-25 November is Asbestos Awareness Week. This is an initiative of the Queensland Government Office of Industrial Relations.
Asbestos Awareness Week aims to alert the community about the dangers of working with asbestos during home renovations and maintenance. If left undisturbed asbestos generally does not pose a health risk. However when disturbed during renovations and home maintenance, asbestos fibres can be released into the air and when inhaled, can cause life-threatening diseases including lung cancer, pleural disease, asbestosis and mesothelioma.
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Asbestos containing materials were commonly used in building materials from 1940 until the end of 1980 and it's use decreasing up until the end of the 80s. When asbestos is disturbed, broken, sanded or cut, asbestos fibres are released into the air and can increase the risk of being inhaled by yourself, family or neighbours.
Identifying asbestos in the home
There are two main types of asbestos.
Asbestos containing materials that can be easily reduced to powder when crushed by hand when dry. Friable asbestos has a much greater risk to health as the fibres can easily become airborne if damaged. Friable asbestos can be found in:
- some sprayed on fire retardants,
- sound proofing and insulation,
- the lining on some old domestic heaters, stoves and hot water systems and pipe insulation,
- the backing of sheet vinyl and linoleum floor coverings, and
- thermal insulation.
Non-friable (also known as bonded, asbestos containing material or ACM)
Asbestos containing materials in which the asbestos is firmly bonded with other materials.
Bonded asbestos can be found in:
- Asbestos cement products (flat, profiled and corrugated sheeting used in walls,
- Ceilings and roofs, moulded items such as downpipes),
- Gables, eaves/soffits,
- Fence panels, and
- Car ports and shed wall sheeting.
Renovating your home and DIY
If removing more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos (approximately four sheets of wall sheeting) you will require a certificate.
The following courses are approved by the Department of Health.
- Module CPCCDE3014A - remove non-friable asbestos
- Online or face to face homeowner and DIY asbestos removal course.
Although you do not require a certificate when removing less than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos, you still need to follow safe work precautions to minimise asbestos fibres getting into the air. For more information refer to Asbestos: a guide for minor renovation. If asbestos is in good condition, it's best to leave it alone.
Class A asbestos removal licences
If you are planning to remove friable asbestos-containing materials you must use a business with a current class A asbestos removal licence from Workplace Health & Safety Queensland. You can search for a contractor on their asbestos website.
Complaints about asbestos
If you believe a business, contractor or a person at a commercial premises is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos materials, phone Workplace Health & Safety Queensland on 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
If you believe a homeowner, occupant or owner-builder is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos material or a person has illegally dumped asbestos waste, contact Council on 3412 3412.
Disposing of asbestos
Homeowners with less than 250 kg of asbestos can transport and dispose of asbestos waste. The asbestos waste must be packaged correctly for transport and disposal. Asbestos containing material can only be disposed of at the Browns Plains landfill located at 339-355 Browns Plains Road, Heritage Park, in accordance with the asbestos acceptance policy conditions .
Homeowners can choose to engage a commercial contractor to transport and dispose of the waste.