Now that 25 years have passed since the phasing out of asbestos in construction, many Australians have been lulled into a sense of complacency when it comes to this potentially lethal material. But if you’re planning a renovation project on an older home, asbestos detection and safe removal ought to shoot right up to the top of your to-do list.
It’s definitely a royal pain in the neck, but before beginning any demolition or removal work on materials installed prior to 1988, take the proper precautions to keep your family safe.
There’s no such thing as “asbestos-vision”, get those samples to the lab.
Take the guesswork out of asbestos detection. If you need to bust out any of the following materials, bring a small sample to an NATA accredited laboratory in your state so that they can take a peek under the microscope and check for asbestos fibres: roofing, shingles, fencing, wall cladding, tile/vinyl floor backing, textured paint, and water pipes.
The rule of thumb here is to treat all materials that could contain asbestos as if they do, until you receive confirmation to the contrary from the lab.
Even the smallest projects require extreme precaution.
Don’t make the mistake of strapping on a cheap $3 dust mask and simply hoping for the best. Exposure to asbestos fibres is serious business. We’re not talking about a little cough here, studies done in Australia as well as the US and UK show that thousands upon thousands of people still die from asbestos related diseases every year.
Check out this laundry list of afflictions you can avoid by employing a little patience and forethought. Asbestosis, plural plaque, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. With all the marvels of modern science, we’ve yet to discover a way to dissolve or remove asbestos fibres. Once they’re in your lungs, it’s for life (or death).
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your budget just went up.
If your samples do come back positive for asbestos, you’re better off biting the bullet and calling in the pros as asbestos removal is hardly a DIY kind of project. It’s important to note if your Owner Build is a construction site you must hire professionals with the correct accreditation to remove the asbestos.
But if “better safe than sorry” doesn’t apply to you, here are some basic tips to help you remove asbestos from your home safely. (1) Wet all material before removal to impede the formation of dust. (2) Never use power tools on any asbestos material. (3) Wear a proper ventilation mask as well as other protective clothing. (4) Always dispose of the materials at an approved asbestos accepting landfill. (5) Take equal care across the board when you remove, load, transport, and dispose of asbestos. For more information visit the link at the bottom of the page.
Remember, whether you go it on your own or call in a certified removal team, you are responsible for following the guidelines set out in Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992. You may be required to obtain a special permit for asbestos removal, contact your local government health and building department for further advice.
Sticking your head in the sand only works for an ostrich.
There are two reasons why asbestos related disease is still such a major killer in 2014. Complacency among older homeowners and a new crop of younger homeowners who were kids the last time asbestos was in the news.
Asbestos was such a hot topic in the late 80’s and early 90’s that older homeowners just kind of assume that the issue has been resolved. Homeowners under 30 may have never even heard of the stuff.
Bottom line. If your home is less than twenty years old you should be sweet. If not, is it really worth rolling the dice?