Asbestos was commonly used in many building materials between the 1940s and late 1980s because of its durability, fire resistance and insulating properties. It is also present in the brakes, clutches and gaskets of many cars.
The presence of asbestos is very difficult to determine with the naked eye. The only way to be sure is to have the material identified by a qualified professional or analyst approved to identify asbestos types. This should be carried out before any work such as general maintenance, renovations or demolition, proceeds.
Generally the presence of asbestos in home building materials does not pose a risk to health unless the material is broken, deteriorating, or disturbed in such a way that dust containing asbestos fibres is produced. The Asbestos Guide for Householders and the General Public contains further information about asbestos.
For loosely-bound asbestos-containing materials such as insulation it is not advisable for residents to do the work themselves due to the increased health risks of handling such material.
For a list of licensed asbestos removalists, contact WorkSafe Victoria on 1800 136 089 or visit their website.
Asbestos must only be disposed of at an approved site licensed by Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria. To obtain a list of licensed asbestos disposal sites in your area, contact the EPA on 9695 2722 or visit their website.
Handling Asbestos Precautions
If residents are considering removing asbestos-containing building materials from their properties, the following precautions should be taken:
- Wear a mask to avoid breathing in any fibres;
- Wet the asbestos materials and keep it damp to stop any loose particles from escaping;
- Minimise any cutting or breaking of materials to be removed;
- Double wrap asbestos in polythene sheeting (0.2mm thick) and keep packages in easy to handle sizes;
- Use adhesive tape to completely cover any package openings;
- Label packages to indicate the presence of asbestos; and
- Dispose of asbestos at a waste disposal site approved by the EPA
Need more information or assistance?
Environmental Health Services can assist with enquiries or complaints about the incorrect removal or disposal of asbestos or enquiries about the health effects of exposure to asbestos. For further information call 9581 4573.
The Victorian Asbestos Website contains more resources about asbestos in Victoria.
WorkSafe Victoria can assist with a list of licensed asbestos removalists in your area, complaints regarding work carried out by an asbestos removalist, and enquiries or complaints about asbestos in the workplace. For further information call 1800 136 089.