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Dealing with Asbestos

Asbestos is a very real hazard when renovating your home. Here's the low-down on what to look for and what to do if you find asbestos in your home.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that was widely used in building materials until 1985.

Asbestos is heat, fire and water resistant, and also withstands erosion and decay.


Why is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos is not dangerous in its solid form. But if asbestos is damaged or disturbed, it can break into tiny fibres and be inhaled.

Exposure to asbestos in this way can cause lung cancer, pleural plaque, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

What sort of building products contain asbestos?

Asbestos was used in a variety of building products prior to 1985, including:

  1. Insulation
  2. Roofing, shingles and siding
  3. Fencing
  4. Water or flue pipes
  5. Wall cladding
  6. Thermal boards around fireplaces
  7. Backing materials for flooring
  8. Wood stove gaskets
  9. Certain paints

How do I recognise asbestos?

Unfortunately, there is no way to spot asbestos with the naked eye. Having a sample professionally tested is the only way to determine if a material contains asbestos.

Generally, you should treat any building material dating from 1985 or earlier as an asbestos hazard.

What should I do if I have asbestos in my home?

Often, there is no need to panic. Asbestos-cement walls or ceilings that are painted and in good condition are not a health risk. However, broken or deteriorating asbestos should be removed immediately.

Never start renovating a home containing asbestos without professional advice.

Can I remove it myself?

You are legally allowed to remove asbestos yourself, but extreme care needs to be taken during removal, packaging, transport and disposal. We highly recommend using a professional asbestos remover.

If you decide to do the job yourself, wear a P1 or P2 class respirator, disposable full-body overalls, a hat and gloves.

Take your asbestos to an approved disposal facility. Contact your local government for more advice.

Still unsure? Get a registered builder for your renovation and have them organise asbestos removal for you.

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