Asbestos containing material is commonly found in WA in older homes and buildings with the most common form being asbestos cement, such as ‘fibro’ housing panels and fibrous fencing, where the asbestos fibres have been mixed with cement to provide strength.
Dangers to health
Asbestos containing material does not pose a risk to health if it is in good condition and is undisturbed. It can become hazardous if disturbed during renovation, demolition or mishandling. The fibres released may cause asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.
To help people to identify asbestos in their home Curtin University researchers have developed and tested a mobile phone app called ACM Check (Asbestos-Containing Material Check). The app aims to raise awareness about asbestos in the home as well as to collect data from about the amount and condition of in situ asbestos in WA cities and towns.
ACM Check guides users through an inspection of their home, both inside and outside, and identifies potential asbestos-containing materials by asking questions about the age of the house, renovation history and key features of the materials used. ACM Check shows plenty of photos to help users complete the inspection, which can take anywhere from a few minutes up to 15 minutes depending on the property. After each inspection the app generates a summary report for the property and provides a series of recommendations about how to manage these materials.
Further Information about this phone app can be found at the university study page: https://tinyurl.com/y8357dbx
Asbestos Collection and Analysis service
Left undisturbed in buildings, asbestos cement (AC) building products do not present a threat to health; this has been shown by studies carried out in Western Australia and elsewhere. If AC building products must be removed, this must be done safely and without risk to workers or the public. If inhaled by humans, asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a disease which is invariably fatal, therefore safe work procedures must be complied with.
The City’s Health Service provides an asbestos sampling service where an Environmental Health Officer will accept asbestos samples for delivery to the lab for analysis once per month. This service aims to provide you a significant saving on the cost of analysis. If you are interested in using this service please contact City Environmental Health Services on 9257 9813.
Ensure you remove the asbestos with the following procedure:
- 1) Dampen or wet the material but do not use high pressured hoses.
- 2) Use pliers (non-serrated), with the inside edges protected with a wet-wipe to break off a small thumbnail sized sample.
- 3) Place the sample (and the wet wipe) into a sealable polythene bag - such as a sandwich bag.
- 4) Place the bagged sample inside another sealable bag.
- 5) Attach a label to the bag identifying the sample type (ceiling tile, fire board, etc) and your name and address.
- 6) Seal the area of the sampled material with duct tape, paint or PVC Glue to minimise fibre release.
- 7) Clean any tools used with water.
Bring your sample to the City doubled bagged in a sealed sample bag, along with the completed submission form and finalise the payment of $70.50. Please be aware that receiving the results of your sample analysis may take up to several weeks.
Removal of Asbestos
Safe measures should be implemented in removing and disposing material known or suspected to contain asbestos. This include wearing protective clothing and wetting the material. Power tools and high pressure hoses should not be used on asbestos.
The Cancer Council WA and Department of Health have released a free online training course “kNOw asbestos in your home”. Before commencing any home renovations it is advisable to complete the training by clicking on the below link:
If you intend to carry out any demolition works proof is required that the building has been assessed for asbestos. If found to contain asbestos demolition works will require an asbestos management plan. All demolition works exceeding 10m² will be required to be undertaken by a licensed person.
All trades persons removing amounts of bonded asbestos at or above 10m² (equivalent to one wall of a typical 2nd bedroom), must be licensed. Bonded (non friable) asbestos under 10m² can be removed without a licence. Removal of any amount of friable asbestos must be by a licensed person or business and should be undertaken in accordance with Work Safe practices (see link below) and the requirements of the Department of Environment and Conservation.
To find out how to obtain a licence click on the below link:
Code of Practice
Should you witness asbestos being removed in an unsafe manner please contact the City Health Services on 92579 9813.
Changes to the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992.
These regulations are undergoing review and will be amended to ensure that all persons handling , removing and disposing of asbestos are licensed, as per the WorkSafe requirement. Additionally the reuse of asbestos cement materials will be largely prohibited. The aim is to protect the health of all persons handling, or affected by the handling, of asbestos.
If you are concerned about degraded asbestos material located on a neighbouring property please complete and return a Health Investigation Request Form.
For more information relating to changes please see the Department of Health website:
WA Health - Public Health - Asbestos
Department of Health - A guide for householders and the general public
Disposal of Material containing Asbestos: Red Hills Waste Facility (Asbestos)
Information Sheet: Disposal of Asbestos
Information Sheet: Asbestos-Containing Material Check Phone App (PDF, 290KB)
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