Top image

Asbestos

The City’s Environmental Health Officers provide general advice on asbestos matters, asbestos contaminated sites and may assist with the removal of illegally dumped material.

Left undisturbed in buildings, asbestos containing materials present in products do not present a threat to health. Unless in a deteriorated state, there is no need to remove asbestos containing materials because of health concerns. Disturbing the material (eg by removal) may create a health hazard where none previously existed.

Asbestos around the home

Asbestos was commonly included in building materials up until the late 1980s. Asbestos may have been used in building products such as

1. Roofing, shingles and siding

2. Exterior wall cladding

3. Fencing

4. Thermal boards around fireplaces

5. Backing material on floor tiles and vinyl flooring

6. Gaskets in wood stoves

7. Textured paints

8. Water or flue pipes

9. Roofing insulation (not used in Western Australian homes)

10. Insulation used on hot water pipes, domestic heaters and stoves

11. Carpet underlay

Identification 

Careful inspection and microscopic examination by a NATA-accredited laboratory is the only way to confirm if a material contains asbestos. Should you wish to have products identified, the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA)-accredited laboratory provides a list of analytical laboratories that test materials for asbestos. If in doubt, always treat a material as if it contains asbestos by taking appropriate safety precautions.

Removal

Degraded, damaged or mishandled asbestos fibres can be inhaled and have the potential to cause respiratory diseases. Asbestos containing building products can be removed safely and without risk to yourself, workers or the public, provided safe work procedures are employed.

Up to 10 sqm of bonded (non-friable) asbestos containing materials can be removed by any individual provided that safe work procedures are employed. As a minimum, this should include the implementation of the following measures:

1. Prepare the area by:

           o removing all movable furniture, fittings, equipment etc

           o turning off heating/air conditioning systems

           o isolating the area and preventing access 

 2. PPE should be worn at all times including:

            o P1 or P2 respirator

            o disposable coveralls

            o safety goggles

            o disposable gloves

3. Before removal, gently spray the asbestos containing material with water or a PVA (polyvinyl acetate) solution to minimise the creation of airborne dust

4. Remove all the asbestos containing material with minimal breakage. Do not use excess force. Only use non-powered hand tools.

5. If it is necessary to cut holes in asbestos and cement material, only non-powered hand tools may be used or power tools that incorporate dust-suppression or dust-extraction equipment attachments specifically designed to collect asbestos fibres

6. Wrap asbestos containing material in heavy duty polyethylene bags or builders’ plastic (polyethylene) no less than 0.2mm thick. 

7. Wrap the plastic around the material and seal it into bundles.

8. Label or mark the bundles with the words “CAUTION: ASBESTOS” in lettering at least 50mm high.

9. Clothing worn for removal is also to be bundled into plastic, sealed and labelled

10. Any debris must be cleaned up using a wet mop or vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. Do not use dusting, sweeping or brushing methods to clean or an ordinary household vacuum cleaner.

We advise that when engaging a contractor to undertake asbestos removal you shouldconfirm they are Worksafe licensed. Additionally, obtain a copy of the tip disposal receipt to confirm material has been disposed of at an appropriately licensed waste facility. All work completed by contractors must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and Regulations and the Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos

Disposal

All materials containing asbestos must be disposed of at a licensed waste facility. The JFR (Jim) McGeogh Resource Recovery Facility accepts small quantities (maximum three sheets) of wrapped asbestos containing materials. It is advised you contact the facility directly before to attending;

The Waste Management division of the Department of Environment Regulation can advise on additional disposal sites – call 6467 5000. 

Information and guidance documents

Further information can also be obtained from the following sites: