What are your options for safe asbestos disposal in Perth?
If you live or work in a building constructed in the 1970s, there’s a high chance asbestos may have been used in its construction.
The hazardous material has been banned in Australia since 2003, but it is estimated that one in three homes still contains the deadly substance.
Australia has strict regulations in place governing how to safely remove asbestos. However, for many home owners concerns remain about the material and safe asbestos disposal.
Concerned your home could be exposed? Here are the options for safe asbestos disposal in Perth.
Where asbestos can be found
Although asbestos is predominately found in older homes and buildings, it may also be where you least expect it and can be easily transferred into your home without you knowing.
The substance can be found in recyclable materials for building products, such as brick and concrete, roadbase and wood chips.
Despite it being banned, some contaminated materials, usually ‘fibro’ sheeting fragments, can still end up in recyclable products rather than a waste facility. Recyclers are strict in mitigating this, but sometimes the material gets through.
Other places where asbestos is still found today include:
- Fencing sheets
- Pipe cement
- Wall cladding
- Roofing materials and shingles
- Thermal boards around fireplaces
- Textured paints
- Spray-on soundproofing
- Carpet underlay
- Heat-resistant fabrics
- Water pipes
- Automotive parts
- Fire protection products
- Putty and glues
- Sealant and packing products
How to safely remove asbestos
Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, becomes a hazard when contaminated materials are disturbed or airborne.
To minimise the release of harmful fibres it must be handled with extreme caution.
If left undisturbed in buildings, asbestos building products aren’t a health risk. But if you plan to renovate, knock down a property or dispose of asbestos-containing materials, safe work procedures must be followed.
In Australia it’s illegal to break asbestos materials with a hammer, grinder or any power/hand tool. Instead, products should be kept intact. All waste containing asbestos must be kept wet (with water or sprayed with a PVA solution), sealed and removed from site as quickly as possible. Wetting the materials prevents fibres releasing into the air.
If you’re removing asbestos materials from heights, it should be lowered to the ground not dropped.
Does your home contain asbestos?
A visual inspection isn’t usually enough to identify asbestos in the home. Instead, samples of suspected fibres are sent for analysis by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited lab. Call for a free quote or sample if you suspect you may have asbestos in your home.
As a general rule of thumb it’s:
- Highly likely: If your house was built or renovated before the mid-1980s
- Likely: If your house was built or renovated between the mid-1980s and 1990
- Unlikely: If your house was built after 1990. However, it’s not possible to rule out asbestos on buildings after this
Note: While legally you are allowed to remove up to 10sqm of asbestos yourself it’s better handled by a trained professional to ensure regulations have been followed and the products are safely disposed.
Recycling asbestos is a safe removal option. However, it can only be done as a controlled process by certain recycling plants.
Thermal technologies are used to recycle asbestos into harmless silicate glass, which is then turned into ceramic items and stoneware.
Special machines which use a chemical reaction process to breakdown the bonds in asbestos materials can safely remove the fibres and reduce the risk of landfill contamination.
Ticking time bombs
Older homes are ticking time bombs.
The cement which holds harmful asbestos fibres in place is vulnerable. As asbestos materials become more exposed to the elements, the likelihood of them falling apart is high. As such asbestos-containing materials could easily crumble from factors such as weather or fire exposure or human intervention such as renovations, knock-downs or vandalism.