Inner West Council

Dealing with Asbestos - Information

More than a third of Australia homes contain asbestos which is most commonly found in fibro building products. Given the age of our housing stock in Ashfield, it is advised to get your house checked for asbestos before doing any maintenance or renovations to buildings.

Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The risk of contracting these diseases increases with the number of fibres inhaled and the risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibres is also greater if you smoke. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.

There is a wealth of information on asbestos removal available on the internet and various resources are listed below:

Resources

Asbestos Awareness:  This website is a good starting point and provides straightforward advice on what to do. For instance, when contracting someone to remove asbestos, make sure they have a licence from WorkCover NSW to remove any amount of asbestos. It is illegal to use unlicenced contractors to remove asbestos. Contractors must also obtain a site-specific permit from WorkCover NSW to carry out this type of work.

The dumping of asbestos material is a serious crime. Council is not allowed to take asbestos materials away either in your weekly collection or at a Council clean-up.  Play it safe and only use licenced contractors.

Workcover NSW website: For information on who can remove asbestos from your house have a look at the WorkCover NSW website (Just click on the WorkCover NSW website link) or contact WorkCover on 13 10 50.

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 scrape 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! 

Whatever you do, don't mess with asbestos - it's not worth the risk to yourself or your family.

        

Fibro and asbestos for homeowners and general public: Guide Click here

Home renovations, DIY and Asbestos: Click here

Get to kNOw Asbestos – The 20 Point Asbestos Safety Check: Click here

A list of Sydney Metro Asbestos Landfill Sites is available from the NSW Environment Protection Authority: Click here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I am buying an older house. How do I know if it contains asbestos?

Many houses built or renovated before the mid-1980s contain asbestos products. Have the house assessed by a qualified occupational hygienist or a licensed asbestos removalist.

Are houses with asbestos roofs safe ?

If asbestos cement products are in sound condition and not disturbed, they do not pose a significant health risk. Replace roofing that is weathered, structurally unsound and no longer waterproof. Use a licensed asbestos removalist to remove and dispose of the roofing. A number of people have died or suffered serious injuries after falling through asbestos cement roofs. Never walk on an asbestos cement roof. They are brittle.

Some asbestos products have a low percentage of asbestos and are therefore safe for me to handle. Is that true ?

If disturbed, treat all products containing any amount of asbestos as potentially dangerous. A licensed asbestos removalist should remove all asbestos containing material where possible.

How do I dispose of asbestos?

If you use the appropriate safety precautions, you are permitted to remove a maximum of 10 square metres of bonded asbestos in NSW. However, if removing more than 10 square metres, you MUST either hire a qualified asbestos removalist or obtain a NSW WorkCover bonded asbestos removal licence which requires you to attend an appropriate training course run by TAFE or a registered training organisation. Any loose or friable asbestos must be removed by an qualified asbestos removalist and cannot be removed by the homeowner.The Environment Protection Authority (Phone: 13 10 50) can provide further information on transporting and disposing of asbestos waste or visit the Asbestos Awareness website.

Can I bury asbestos on my property ?

NO. It is illegal – and poses a health risk. It must be taken to a facility that can lawfully receive asbestos waste.


I am renovating my bathroom, kitchen and laundry. Should I be concerned about asbestos ?

Asbestos products were often used in wet areas of older homes, built or renovated before the mid-1980s such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundries. If in doubt, have the material tested by a qualified professional and/or removed by a licensed asbestos removalist.


If I am demolishing a fibro shed, what should I do?

It is recommended that you get a licensed asbestos removalist to assist you.  The Australian Mesothelioma Registry’s 2014 Report shows that of the 350 people diagnosed with mesothelioma where there is information about asbestos exposure, 137 (39.14%) were classified as non-occupational exposure. Of these 37.2% were home renovators and of those 33% were women.


Where do I find an asbestos removalist, and how do I know they are licensed?

Asbestos removalists are listed in the Yellow Pages. Ask them for a copy of their licence, or call WorkCover NSW on 13 10 50 to confirm if they have the appropriate class of licence for the job.