Before 1980, asbestos was commonly used in the production of homes, in the form of cement sheeting and piping. It was also used to manufacture vinyl floor tiles, brake linings, and electrical components, among other things. Undisturbed, asbestos does not post much of a risk; otherwise it produces dust that contains asbestos fibers. These fibers can then be breathed in by homeowners, leading to a variety of health issues like asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Therefore, owners of homes build before 1980 should take great care when removing and disposing asbestos materials used in their homes.
Homeowners who suspect that there is asbestos in their homes can start by contacting an expert to check around the home and identify if there are areas in the home that do contain asbestos. Here are some good places to start checking:
- In the bathroom, where asbestos was used before 1985 in fibro sheeting.
- In internal walls, where older flat sheet fibro contains asbestos.
- In ceilings, walls and roofs, where fibro ceiling sheeting containing asbestos was used extensively – in fact, 98% of homes that were constructed before 1976 used asbestos sheeting and 20% of roofs contained asbestos as well.
- In external walls, where asbestos-containing materials were used for outside cladding of homes, sheds and garages.
- Even pipes can contain asbestos, as many older water and wastewater systems used asbestos cement pipes.
For those who do find asbestos in their homes, what should they do then? If the house is not being renovated and the asbestos is in good condition, undamaged and coated with paint, the asbestos poses no threat to residents’ health so long as it is not disturbed. Regular checking for deterioration or damage should be done though.
Many homeowners, though, probably do not feel comfortable knowing that there is a possible health risk at home, especially if there are kids around. Most worry that any damage may also be discovered too late, and asbestos dust may be silently poisoning them. Therefore many make the choice to renovate their homes and remove the dangerous material. How should they go about removing asbestos from their homes?
Homeowners are allowed legally in Melbourne to remove up to a certain amount of asbestos from their homes, however the removal process poses a great health risk to homeowners, their families and even to neighbors when done themselves. It is therefore recommended that work in removing asbestos be done by licensed professionals, who are trained in handling this type of material.
It is important to note that homeowners who plan to remove asbestos from their properties should make appropriate preparations beforehand. Some renovation work done in houses in Melbourne require permits from the local city council, so make sure to check and complete all necessary paperwork. Homeowners are also required to check in with neighbours, as asbestos removal puts their health at risk as well. In fact, homeowners can be legally held accountable for nuisances that are, or can be, offensive or dangerous to the health of those in the neighborhood.
Regardless of who will be removing asbestos from any property, take note that there are recommended proper handling clothing and equipment in the removal of asbestos. Ordinary dust masks are not enough, disposable respirators appropriate for asbestos should be used. If in doubt give contact us at EZY Skip Bins. Disposable coveralls are also recommended, as these will be disposed of after the work, along with the asbestos material. Disposable hats and gloves help cover the individual fully during the work.
Asbestos that has been removed from a property should also be disposed properly. All materials containing asbestos should be packed tightly, sealed and labeled “asbestos”, along with safety equipment and clothing used in the removal. This way, no dust containing asbestos escapes and become inhaled.
In Melbourne, the disposal of asbestos is heavily regulated by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA). They also control the transportation of asbestos from a site to the disposal site. This further ensures the safety of the homeowners and other people living in the neighborhood. Landfills have been identified in Melbourne as licensed to receive asbestos waste and they are categorized into: Domestic (from households removed by homeowners themselves), commercial and domestic (professionally removed) or commercial only. Contacting the local authorities can give homeowners an idea where the closest landfill is.
Handling asbestos is a very serious matter, because of its very serious health risks. When one is not sure about how to deal with asbestos at home, better contact an expert so that homeowners gain peace of mind when they sleep in their asbestos-free homes.