The Environmental Health team at the City responds to many queries from residents about how to handle and manage asbestos in the home. Houses constructed before 1988 are more likely to have asbestos in the building due to the widespread use of asbestos as a building and fencing material during that time.

Due to the impact on personal and public health, it is important residents are aware of how to handle and dispose of asbestos correctly. It should be noted that exposure to asbestos most commonly occurs from household renovations and demolitions.

What is the legislation regarding asbestos?

The Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992 is the principal piece of legislation used by local governments to regulate the handling of asbestos in Western Australia.

A detailed list of asbestos requirements can be found on the WA Department of Health website.

What are the health risks regarding asbestos?

Asbestos is known to cause serious illnesses including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. There is no known safe level of exposure, however the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease from exposure levels the public may experience on a daily basis is extremely low.

Just because you have been exposed to asbestos, does not mean you will get an asbestos-related disease, as it relates to the quantity of fibres that a person has been exposed to over time.

Further information can be found in the WA Department of Health's information sheet "Asbestos in and around your home: What is the risk for Disease?".

How to handle asbestos safely

When handling asbestos in and around the home (eg. maintenance, removal or renovations), you must ensure the correct measures are taken to minimise the risk to yourself and others.

The regulations require that a person handling asbestos takes reasonable measures to prevent asbestos fibres entering the atmosphere.

These reasonable measures include:

  • Use water or other practical measures to minimise airborne material
  • Only use non-powered tools or portable power tools that incorporate dust suppression or dust extraction attachments designed to collect asbestos fibres
  • Use vacuum cleaning equipment designed to collect asbestos fibres, or wetting the area before sweeping up material containing asbestos
  • Do not use high pressure water jet, or compressed air
  • Ensure material containing asbestos is not broken or abraded
  • Ensure waste material containing asbestos is disposed of in accordance with the Environmental Protection (Controlled Waste) Regulations 2004 as soon as practicable.

If you need to remove a large quantity of asbestos or you are unsure of how it should be done, you should employ an experienced WorkSafe Licensed asbestos removalist.

If removing asbestos containing materials yourself, you should consider the following:

Personal Protective equipment

Class P1 or P2 disposable respirator

  • Disposable coveralls (Type 3)
  • Eye protection
  • Disposable gloves
  • Water or a poly vinyl acetate (PVA) solution to spray the asbestos cement with, to minimise the creation of airborne dust.

Asbestos Fences

  • Dig a trench to expose the entire sheet
  • Remove the entire sheet in a manner that will prevent breakage
  • Use only hand operated tools (no power tools)
  • Do not cut, break or slide sheets
  • Wrap the asbestos sheets in 0.2mm polythene (plastic) sheeting and seal with heavy duty tape
  • Mark the bundle with the words "Caution asbestos"
  • Ensure all small pieces/ fragments are collected, wrapped, sealed and labelled.

Asbestos Roof Sheeting

As asbestos cement roofs can pose additional hazards (eg. slippery when wet and can be brittle to walk on), it is advised that a licensed asbestos removalist be used.

Further information regarding the maintenance or removal of asbestos containing materials in and around the home can be found on the WA Department of Health website.

Disposal of asbestos waste

All asbestos waste must be disposed at landfill and waste disposal sites that have been licensed by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

Further information

Further information can be obtained by phoning the City's Environmental Health Branch on 9272 0648 during office hours.

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