Council recommends that you visit the Asbestos Awareness website www.asbestosawareness.com.au for the most current information on all aspects of asbestos management and regulation.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the generic term for a number of fibrous silicate minerals. Due to its ability to withstand heat, erosion and decay, and its fire- and water-resistant properties, it was historically considered a useful and versatile product.
Asbestos is described as either "friable" or "non-friable".
Non-friable asbestos is bonded to another material, for example cement. Non-friable asbestos cannot be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry. However, it may become friable asbestos material if damaged by fire, hail, or water blasting.
The removal of non-friable asbestos products with a total area greater than 10m² must be undertaken by a contractor licensed by SafeWork NSW.
Friable asbestos material is any material that contains asbestos and is in the form of a powder or can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry. Friable asbestos was not commonly used in the home; it was mainly used in industrial applications. Examples of Asbestos fibre or dust waste include brake lining dust, acoustic insulation, thermal insulation (lagging) and dust from ventilation collection systems.
Friable asbestos should only be removed by a specialised asbestos removal contractor with a friable asbestos licence issued by SafeWork NSW.
Where can Asbestos be found?
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 contain asbestos cement building material.
Bonded asbestos was most commonly used in buildings as flat or corrugated sheeting (‘fibro'), for walls, ceilings and roofing. Similar cement sheeting products are used today, but these are 'asbestos free'. In the 1960s and 70s loose fibre asbestos was used in some parts of NSW as home roof insulation.
Other products containing asbestos included water, drainage and flue pipes; electrical conduit and guttering and floor tiles.
In NSW, the use of asbestos was discontinued in all fibro sheets and products by the mid-1980s. After this, asbestos continued to be used principally in friction products, for brake and clutch linings. The manufacture and use of asbestos products was banned nationally in Australia from 31 December 2003.
Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos is a known carcinogen. Inhalation is the main way that asbestos enters the body. The inhalation of asbestos fibres is known to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Asbestos is a health risk when the fibres are released into the air and breathed in.
Finding that your home or workplace is made from products containing asbestos does not mean your health is at risk. Studies have shown that these products, if in sound condition and left undisturbed, are not a significant health risk. If the asbestos fibres remain firmly bound in cement sheet or structure, generally you do not need to remove the asbestos, or even coat it.
Further advice concerning the health risks of asbestos can be obtained from your local public health unit. The Greater Western Public Health Unit in Bathurst can be contacted on (02) 6339 5601.
Handling & Disposal of Asbestos- Legalities
If you use the appropriate safety precautions, you are permitted to remove a maximum of 10 square metres of bonded asbestos in NSW.
However, if removing more than 10 square metres, you MUST either hire a qualified asbestos removalist or obtain a NSW SafeWork bonded asbestos removal licence which requires you to attend an appropriate training course run by TAFE or a registered training organisation. Any loose or friable asbestos must be removed by an qualified asbestos removalist and cannot be removed by the homeowner.
It is illegal to re-use, recycle or illegally dump asbestos products. It is also illegal to dispose of asbestos waste in domestic garbage bins. Asbestos waste must be disposed of at a landfill site that can lawfully receive this waste.
Bathurst Waste Management Centre accepts asbestos waste. However as asbestos waste must be disposed of by burial, acceptance of the waste is subject to prior arrangement being made with Council's Waste Management Centre Gatehouse on (02) 6332 9111 or 0417 065 578.
Contact the Office of Environment and Heritage's Environment Line on 13 15 55 for additional information about legally transporting and disposing of asbestos waste.
Failure to dispose of asbestos waste appropriately is a health risk and can result in fines and clean up costs.
If you would like to talk to a Bathurst Regional Council Officer about asbestos please call (02) 6333 6511.
For further information regarding the safe handling and removal practices of Asbestos follow the links below.
SafeWork NSW or Phone 13 10 50
NSW EPA - Safe disposal of household asbestos
NSW Health - Asbestos and Health Risks
NSW Health - DIY Safe - hazards and risks that home renovators may face from a range of chemicals and materials, including asbestos