The use of asbestos in construction materials was banned in the 1980s in Australia, so homes constructed after the Second World War and before this ban are likely to contain some asbestos in different parts. These include roofing, flooring, fireproofing, pipe coverings/insulation, gaskets and joint compounds among others, collectively known as asbestos-containing materials (ACM). Asbestos is dangerous once its particles become airborne and are inhaled, therefore proper handling during removal and disposal is essential to mitigating its harmful effects. Below are tips for how to do this:
1. Asbestos testing before major renovation work
If you have an old home (predating the ban period), schedule asbestos testing to be carried out on all parts of the house before beginning any demolition or construction. As stated, the ACM are dangerous when broken apart to release asbestos particles in the air. Testing is also important if you notice parts of your house falling apart, even if you're not planning a renovation.
Knowing where ACMs are found in the home is one of the most important steps to preventing their inadvertent release. Testing should be carried out by a licensed testing professional who will also advise you regarding whether the asbestos needs to be removed depending on the kind of work that will be done during your renovation project.
2. Try to keep the asbestos whole
Asbestos was also used in appliances for insulation before it was banned. If you have such an appliance, consider getting rid of the appliance in its entirety instead of separating the ACM from the appliance. This is ideal if the appliance is near the end of its usable life, so that the cost and potential hazards of separation do not justify the extension of usable life. If the appliance still has considerable usable time, you can seal exposed ACM insulation to minimize risk of formation of airborne particles. Sealing can also be done other intact ACMs in other parts of the house during renovations.
3. Remove asbestos professionally
Asbestos removal is a complicated process – the surface should be wetted completely before removal to prevent friable (loose) materials from getting into the atmosphere. In your home, it should be handled by a professional asbestos removing specialist who is well versed with removal procedures to minimize risk. Avoid removing asbestos during windy weather as the risks are multiplied. Have as few people in the vicinity during removal as possible during the process.
Once removed, asbestos materials should be placed separately in marked and sealed disposal bags and then shipped. Any non-AC materials that come into contact with ACMs should be treated as ACM during disposal. These should be taken to certified landfills – not all landfills can hold hazardous wastes. Asbestos waste materials are usually buried deep in the ground during disposal. If you bury asbestos in your property, you must disclose this information to interested parties so that future owners do not unknowingly disturb the burial site.
For more information, talk to a professional like Total Asbestos Services.