Asbestos could be lurking in your bathroom, kitchen or other unexpected places in your home - this is the message to do-it-yourself renovators with at least one in three Australian homes likely to contain this dangerous product. Before its ban in 2003, asbestos was used in more than 3,000 common building materials.
You might also be surprised to know that Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related disease in the world, and that DIY renovators and some tradies are amongst those most at risk for asbestos exposure. What’s more, there is no known safe minimum level of exposure.
Monday 25 November kicked off Asbestos Awareness Week. Now is the perfect time to find out how to keep you and your family safe around asbestos.
Products around the home that might contain asbestos include:
- Roofs, eaves, downpipes and insulation
- Interior walls (often with a non-asbestos covering on the outside)
- Kitchen splashbacks
- Under lino, some carpets, and tiles (and the cement compounds used to affix tiles)
- Lagging around pipes, inside fuse boxes or as part of ventilation shafts
- Fences, garden sheds and small outdoor construction like chicken coops
- Bonded cement compounds that make up walls – disturbed when you sand for painting
You can’t detect asbestos just by looking at it as some companies manufactured identical-looking products after the asbestos ban in 2003.
If you’re renovating your own home, built prior to 1990, you need to be especially careful. Start by visiting asbestos.nsw.gov.au for more info. You can use the Asbestos Finder to learn more about the materials in your home. And, If you need, ask a licenced asbestos assessor to inspect your home.
If you’re worried about asbestos in your workplace, your first port of call should be your employer or health and safety representative, and then to SafeWork NSW.
Workers in the building and constructions trades, vehicle trades and manufacturing, as well as plumbers and electricians, are especially at risk of potentially encountering asbestos.
So know the risks and know the facts. Always take precautions and if you suspect a product might contain asbestos, don’t work with it – seek the help of a trained professional to assist. For more info visit asbestos.nsw.gov.au.Back to top