Asbestos fibres were widely used in building materials before the mid-1980s. If your house was built or renovated before the mid-1980s, it is likely to have been constructed using asbestos containing building materials.
As a general rule, if your house was built:
before the mid-1980s – it is highly likely that it has asbestos containing products
between the mid-1980s and 1990 – it is possible that it has asbestos containing products
after 1990 – it is unlikely that it has asbestos containing products
Some houses built in the 1990s and early 2000s may have been constructed with asbestos materials until the total ban on any activity involving asbestos products became effective from December 2003. Some modern imported building materials have been found to contain asbestos.
The Occupational Health & Safety Regulations only apply to workplaces. Where asbestos removal is being done by a person in their own home, the Regulations do not apply because it is not a workplace. However, removing asbestos safely can be a complicated process. All asbestos material must be disposed at a landfill or waste disposal site approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Not all landfill sites accept asbestos. To minimise any risks associated with asbestos, it is best carried out by licensed professionals who have completed relevant training.
If you suspect a material may contain asbestos, don’t take the risk, stop work and get the material tested for the presence of asbestos.
Confirmation of asbestos can only be made with scientific testing. A small sample is all that is required for analysis of most materials, approximately the size of a 20c piece, however asbestos isn’t evenly distributed in vinyl tiles so to get an accurate result a larger sample of approximately 10x10cm or the size of a business card is required.
Identifibre Pty Ltd is an accredited National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) asbestos testing laboratory.
If you are concerned about a material, you should have the sample analysed for the presence of asbestos. Identifibre makes this process easy, you can either;
- Bring the sample into our office during business hours (Identifibre Pty Ltd, 67 Atherton Road, Oakleigh VIC 3166) or;
- Post the sample double bagged in sealed zip lock bags, please use the sample testing form or;
- We can arrange for a consultant to collect the sample from your house, please contact our office during business hours (03) 9563 2957 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home Renovations & DIY
Approximately one third of all homes built in Australia contain asbestos products. If you are thinking about renovating, you must be aware of asbestos. It is important for home owners and renovators to be aware of the potential health risks of asbestos and the safety precautions required before renovating a house that may contain asbestos.
Asbestos containing materials that are in good condition are unlikely to release asbestos fibres if left undisturbed, so if you are not planning on renovating you can paint seal and leave them alone.
Never use high pressure or power tools on asbestos materials as they will make asbestos fibres airborne.
Common asbestos containing materials in houses
These materials are commonly located in the following areas;
The Australian Government Department of Health through the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee have developed a brochure with detailed information for householders and the general public. The brochure is comprehensive and easy to read.
Asbestos a guide for householders and the general public: