Bushfire Advice - Asbestos
Asbestos was commonly used in building materials from the 1940s until the mid-1990s and was not totally banned until 31 December 2003. The inhalation of asbestos fibres, as well as ash, dust and other particulates resulting from the recent bushfires may result in serious diseases. Exposure to asbestos and other particulate matter should be avoided.
It is important that people returning to their bushfire affected properties, as well as volunteers and other people attending bushfire affected areas be aware of the risks and take appropriate precautions.
It is estimated that at least one in every three buildings constructed between the 1940s and 1990s contain asbestos products. Asbestos may be found in a number of products, including:
- roofing and shingles
- under eaves
- exterior wall cladding
- interior walls and wet areas
- thermal boards around fireplaces and in switch boards
- backing material on floor tiles and vinyl flooring
- gaskets and seals in wood stoves
- textured paint
- garages and workshops
- brakes, clutches and gaskets of cars
- insulation used on hot water pipes, hot water cylinders, domestic heaters and stoves.
What does asbestos look like?
It is very difficult to identify asbestos by looking at it. If you are uncertain about what a substance is, you should treat it as though it contains asbestos. The only way to be certain is to have a sample analysed by a laboratory. A licensed asbestos removalist or occupational hygienist may also help identify materials containing asbestos.
What should I do if I find asbestos?
If you are concerned about any asbestos at your property you should contact a licensed asbestos removalist who can assist you. A list of licensed removalists can be found on the Workplace Standards website or by contacting the Workplace Standards Helpline on 1300 366 322.
May I remove and clean up asbestos from my property?
It is recommended that you contact a licensed asbestos removalist if you are considering cleaning up fire damaged areas suspected of containing asbestos.
For your health and safety is is recommended that you use the correct safety equipment, including:
- an appropriate particulate respirator or P2 mask;
- disposable coveralls with fitted hood and cuffs;
- boots without laces;
- boot covers; and
- protective gloves.
These items can be purchased from a hardware store.
How does asbestos need to be prepared for disposal?
Asbestos should be handled and prepared for disposal in accordance with the Code of Practice: How to Safely Remove Asbestos which can be located on the Legislation page.
- Asbestos being double bagged or double wrapped in heavy duty 200µm (minimum thickness) polythene plastic or bags.
- Minimise activity that generates asbestos fibres.
- Use of controlled wetting of the waste to reduce asbestos dust.
- Labelling of the prepared bags with an appropriate warning, clearly stating that they contain asbestos and that dust creation and inhalation should be avoided.
CAUTION – ASBESTOS
DO NOT DAMAGE OR OPEN BAG, DO NOT INHALE DUST, CANCER AND LUNG DISEASE HAZARD
Things to avoid
- Avoid removing asbestos materials unless absolutely necessary. Only remove asbestos materials that are already broken and dislodged.
- Avoid breaking asbestos materials.
- Avoid walking on corrugated asbestos roofs.
- Avoid using high pressure water to clean up asbestos materials.
- Do not use power tools or abrasive materials (eg sanders) on asbestos materials.
How do I dispose of asbestos?
Asbestos is classified as a hazardous material, so there are rules about how it can be transported and where it can be disposed. Do not put asbestos waste into bins or with items for kerbside collection. The Government is investigating ways to assist people with asbestos disposal. Further information will be available in the next few days.
For further information you can visit the Bushfire Recovery website.
Information is also available at workplacestandards.tas.gov.au or by phoning the Workplace Standards Helpline on 1300 366 322 (inside Tasmania) or (03) 6166 4600 (outside Tasmania)
Ateco, an importer of Great Wall and Chery motor vehicles from China, is voluntarily recalling approximately 23,000 cars because some of the engine and exhaust gaskets are likely to contain asbestos, a banned substance. There is no asbestos-related health risk to the driver or any passengers who use the vehicle.
The gaskets are tightly embedded in the vehicle and present no hazard during normal operation of the vehicle. Caution must be taken if carrying out maintenance. Procedures have been prepared and implemented to ensure that the gaskets are handled correctly by mechanics during maintenance of the vehicles.
Any work involving these gaskets should be carried out by an authorised Chery or Great Wall dealer or a licensed motor mechanic who has been made aware of these procedures. www.recalls.gov.au