Home renovations and asbestos risk

Where will I find asbestos in a home?

Is there asbestos in the house? If the home was built between 1950 and 1990 you will most likely find some materials that contain asbestos.

Materials that contain asbestos were used widely in house construction up to the 1990s. Some of the areas in the home where materials that contain asbestos can be found include:

In Australia the use of asbestos in fibro-cement products was phased out by 1987, but the use of asbestos in some products was not discontinued until 2003.

Home renovations and asbestos risk

Asbestos is typically referred to as either friable or non-friable (sometimes referred to as bonded). This will determine whether or not it can be removed without a licence, the type of licence required and the safety provisions that apply for its removal.

Does asbestos pose a risk?

Asbestos poses a health risk when it is disturbed so that asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in. Both friable and non-friable asbestos can pose significant health risk if the materials are not properly maintained or removed carefully.

Removing the asbestos

Although some state and territory laws allow limited amounts of asbestos to be removed by unlicensed persons, this does not mean that unlicensed persons are exempt from the asbestos regulations. They are only exempt from the requirement to be licensed.

Unlicensed removal of asbestos is subject to strict safety conditions similar to those imposed on licensed persons. This is because removing asbestos is a dangerous process that can expose those removing it and others nearby to serious risks to their health and safety if not properly carried out. For this reason you should consider hiring licensed professionals to do the work, even if the removal can be carried out without a licence.

Each state and territory also has regulations governing the safe removal and transportation of asbestos waste that you must adhere to. It is regulated by the local safety authority and/or the Environment Protection Agency and/or the local council. Therefore, you should contact each of these authorities to ascertain their specific requirements and approved waste disposal facilities.

Asbestos removal procedures

Asbestos removal practices must comply with the relevant state and territory health and safety legislation. All Australian states and territories have a code of practice for the safe removal of asbestos that provides advice and guidance on how to comply with the local requirements and other recommendations for safely removing asbestos.

Relevant and up-to-date legislation and codes of practice are freely available for downloading from the website of your local work health and safety authority: