Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that was widely used in building materials up to 1987. It is commonly found in older buildings throughout the Shire.

When asbestos-containing materials are left undisturbed they are relatively harmless. However if the material is damaged or disturbed it may release fibres into the air which can be dangerous to health.

How do I know if a material contains asbestos?

Generally, a person cannot determine whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it. If in doubt, and the material is installed prior to 1987, treat the suspect material as though it does contain asbestos. Careful visual examination and the use of a microscope is the only way to verify the presence of asbestos. To confirm if a material contains asbestos, contact a laboratory that performs testing. Look in the yellow pages under ‘analysts’ for a NATA accredited laboratory that can confirm the presence of asbestos in a product.

 

What are the health effects caused by exposure to asbestos?

In its raw form, asbestos is well known to cause health effects in humans. Exposure to asbestos fibres can cause the following diseases:

  • Asbestosis;
  • Pleural Plaque;
  • Lung cancer;
  • Mesothelioma.

The risk of developing an asbestos related disease depends on the total number of fibres inhaled. To date, the majority of people who have developed asbestos related diseases have been exposed to relatively large numbers of fibres, over a period of time, as a result of contact with the material in their occupation.

What are the health effects caused by exposure to asbestos cement products?

Generally, undisturbed asbestos cement products do not pose a health risk, as the fibres are bound together in a solid cement matrix.

Online training

Cancer Council WA and the WA Department of Health have launched a free online training course, kNOw Asbestos in Your Home where home renovators and DIYers can learn about locating, safely handling and disposing of asbestos as well as learning more about asbestos-related diseases.

Removing asbestos

If you are engaging a contractor to remove over 10m2 of bonded (non-friable) asbestos, that contractor must be licenced with WorkSafe WA. Contractors are approved and licenced by WorkSafe and a list of licence holders is available on the WorkSafe website. 

If you decide to remove the asbestos yourself (including licenced contractors) you are required to comply with the requirements of the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992. If you are handling less than 10m2 of asbestos, please note the following guidelines:

  • use adequate personal protective equipment including a respirator (P1 or P2 type), disposable coveralls, safety glasses and disposable gloves;
  • wet the area thoroughly to reduce the number of airborne fibres;
  • do not use power tools to cut through asbestos;
  • do not use high pressure water hoses or compressed air to clean asbestos sheets;
  • use vacuum equipment designed to extract asbestos fibres or sweep up any dust residues after thoroughly wetting down;
  • triple wrap asbestos in heave duty black plastic and clearly label the package ‘CAUTION ASBESTOS’. The Davis Road Waste Management and Recycling Facility accept asbestos-containing material. Please contact the facility directly for further information.

Further information

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