Asbestos is a known carcinogen. The inhalation of asbestos fibres is known to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Asbestos poses a risk to health by inhalation whenever asbestos fibres become airborne and people are exposed to these fibres.
Disturbing asbestos may cause fine asbestos fibres to become airborne, which can be breathed in and penetrate the deepest parts of the lungs.
Repairs and renovations that involve removing, cleaning, cutting, drilling, sanding or painting can all release dangerous fibres into the air.
Unfortunately asbestos fibres were widely used in building materials before the mid-1980s and houses built or renovated prior to then they may contain asbestos.
Between 1945 and 1954, 70,000 asbestos cement houses were built in NSW and until the 1960s more than 25% of all new houses in Australia were clad in the material.
License Requirements for Removing Asbestos
Since 1 January 2008, a bonded asbestos licence has been required in NSW to remove more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos material.
Licences are regulated and administered by WorkCover NSW.
WorkCover NSW provides extensive guidelines for dealing with asbestos. WorkCover's Working with Asbestos Guide provides up to date guidance on identification, licensing and working with asbestos. The catalogue can be found on the WorkCover website: www.workcover.nsw.gov.au
Other on-line information about asbestos can be obtained from:
The Home Building Service website (a division of the Office of Fair Trading) at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
NSW Department of Health at www.health.nsw.gov.au
Further information about mesothelioma can be obtained by going to:
Failure to handle or dispose of asbestos appropriately is a serious health risk and can result in fines and clean-up costs.
Please remember to contact Council's Environmental Services Department on (02) 6392 3200 before beginning any repairs or renovations where you suspect asbestos may be present.