Fibro and Asbestos

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Does your home contain asbestos? How would you know?

Before renovating, visit www.AsbestosAwareness.com.au to learn where asbestos might be found in your home, the dangers of disturbing it and how best to manage it. 

  • Australia has been ranked among the world's top consumers of asbestos products per capita.
  • 1 in 3 Australian homes contain asbestos in some form or another (a conservative estimate).
  • There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres so it's vital to safely manage asbestos-containing products.
  • Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma (an incurable asbestos-related cancer).
  • Every brick, weatherboard, fibro or clad home built or renovated before 1987, most likely contains asbestos-containing products in some form or another.
  • During renovations or the demolition of homes containing asbestos products, asbestos fibres can be released into the air and be inhaled putting renovators, families, tradespeople and bystanders at risk. 
  • If you find asbestos in your home; Don't cut it! Don't drill it! Don't drop it ! Don't sand it! Don't saw it! Don't scrub it! Don't dismantle it! Don't tip it! Don't waterblast it! Don't demolish it! and whatever you do...DON'T DUMP IT!

Asbestos materials were commonly used in the building industry from 1940 to 1980. There is now a ban on using asbestos products.

The most commonly found household building materials containing asbestos are asbestos cement products also called "fibro" and "AC sheeting".

Other asbestos cement products that may be found around the home include:

  • flat or corrugated sheeting;
  • water or flue pipes;
  • roof shingles;
  • flexible building boards;
  • imitation brick cladding;
  • vinyl floor tiles; and
  • backing of linoleum floor covering

Loose fill Asbestos investigation

Loose-fill asbestos was sold as ceiling insulation in the 1960s and 1970s for residential and commercial premises mainly by one company trading in the ACT as Mr. Fluffy. While most properties impacted are located in the ACT, a small number of properties in south east NSW have been identified as containing this type of insulation.

NSW Fair Training is contracting an independent specialist to work with the NSW Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA) to help establish the scope of properties impacted by loose-filled asbestos ceiling insulation material.

The Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities is also providing information and assistance to Queanbeyan City Council and homeowners of impacted properties, as well as workers who have the potential to disturb loose-fill asbestos insulation.

A free testing service is available until 31 October 2016 to eligible residents, in the Queanbeyan area, for any suspected Mr Fluffy loose-fill asbestos from homes built prior to 1980. After 31 October 2016, further consideration for inclusion in the program will be given to eligible homeowners experiencing hardship or facing exceptional circumstances. Homeowners in the 28 identified LGAs, with homes built prior to 1980, can also obtain private testing, and should the test confirm the presence of loose-fill asbestos, the cost of the test will be refunded and consideration will be given to inclusion in the program.

Residents are encouraged to contact NSW Fair Trading by calling 13 77 88 or visit www.losefillasbestos.nsw.gov.au if they have any further questions.

For more information click the links below.


Health Risks of Asbestos

Generally the presence of asbestos in household building materials does not pose a risk to health unless the material is broken, deteriorating or disturbed in a way that dust fibres are produced.

Special precautions should be taken by anyone needing to disturb asbestos, including wetting down work areas, wearing special filtered respirators, disposal coveralls and gloves, and correctly packing and labelling asbestos for transport and disposal at licensed sites.

For further information on health risks of asbestos see NSW Health.

Asbestos can be a health risk during removal, packaging, transport and disposal. It is important that it is handled safely at these times, the best way to do this is to use a licensed asbestos removalist.

Council planning approvals may contain conditions requiring the use of licensed asbestos removalists


Licensing Requirements for removing asbestos

WorkCover NSW regulates the licensing of asbestos removalists. The WorkCover website contains additional information on asbestos

Asbestos licences are designated as AS1 and AS2 licences:

  • AS1 licences the operator to carry out work with both friable and bonded asbestos.
  • AS2 licences the operator to carry out work with bonded asbestos only.

You can search on-line or in the phone book to find a licensed asbestos removalist or call the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association on 02 8586 3521

As Queanbeyan is so close to the ACT you should check that whoever you employ to remove your asbestos is licensed by WorkCover NSW.


Controls and limitations

Friable asbestos: You must always use a licensed asbestos removalist.

Bonded asbestos: You must use a licensed removalists to remove more than 10square meters.

Everyone should implement the safeguards specified within the WorkCover catalogue titled Working with Asbestos Guide.


Disposal and transport of asbestos

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Licensed asbestos removalists will look after disposal and transport for you.

If removing less than ten square metres of asbestos yourself you should follow the WorkCover guidelines on working with asbestos and you will need to arrange correct disposal.  The closes disposal point for Queanbeyan residents is in the ACT.  Mugga Lane small vehicle transfer stations accepts asbestos waste from 7.30 am to 5.00 pm daily (except Christmas Day and Good Friday). No appointment is necessary. However asbestos waste must be double wrapped in heavy duty plastic (200 microns). Heavy duty plastic is available at hardware stores.

For full details on ACT asbestos requirements see the ACT Asbestos Awareness website.


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