Whitehorse City Council

Asbestos

Asbestos is present in many buildings constructed before the 1980s and was commonly used because of its durability, fire resistance and insulating properties.

Asbestos was used in materials such as: 

  • Cement sheeting (fibro) 
  • Drainage and flue pipes 
  • Roofing, guttering and flexible building boards 
  • Brakes, clutches and gaskets
  • Home roof insulation

Asbestos can present a health risk if the material is broken, deteriorating, or disturbed in such a way that dust containing asbestos fibres is produced. The use of all forms of asbestos has been banned nationally since 31 December 2003.

Asbestos-containing materials can release asbestos fibres into the air whenever they are disturbed, and especially during the following activities:  

  • Any direct action, such as drilling, boring, cutting, filing, brushing, grinding, sanding, breaking, smashing or blowing with compressed air 
  • Removal of asbestos containing materials
  • The renovation or demolition of buildings containing asbestos

Generally, asbestos removal should be undertaken only by a licensed removalist. Unlicensed removal of limited amounts of asbestos is permitted in certain circumstances. To find out more, visit www.worksafe.vic.gov.au

In many cases it may be safer to leave the asbestos where it is. In which case it can be encapsulated (e.g. painted or boxed in). Make a note for future reference or to pass on to a purchaser if you sell your house.

It is difficult to tell whether a building material contains asbestos. The only way to be certain is to have a sample of the material tested in a NATA accredited laboratory. (See below for contact details.)  

Authority Role Phone
WorkSafe Victoria For a list of licensed asbestos removalists in your area, complaints regarding work carried out by an asbestos removalist, and enquiries or complaints about asbestos in the workplace 1800 136 089
Council’s Environmental Health Unit For enquiries or complaints about the incorrect removal of asbestos from a dwelling or disposal/dumping of asbestos in your neighbourhood. 9262 6197  
Department of Human Services Environmental Health Unit  For enquiries about the potential health effects of exposure to asbestos 9637 4156
Environment Protection Authority   For a list of licensed asbestos disposal sites in your areas and enquiries about the correct disposal of asbestos-containing materials 9695 2722 
National Association Testing Authorities To obtain a NATA-accredited laboratory in your area that can identify asbestos NATA website

Useful Guides

Download the following:
More Information about Asbestos, Guidance Note: Removing Asbstos and Asbestos in the Home from the WorkSafe and Department of Health websites respectively:

www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/1b27f90044cf457d99bedff3b504acde/101125+More+information+about+asbestos+FINAL.pdf?MOD=AJPERES www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fb569480447ce0aaa53cef7feb6a3dd3/101028+GN+Removing+asbestos+before+demo+or+refurb+WEB+FINAL.pdf?MOD=AJPERES www.health.vic.gov.au/environment/downloads/asbestos_home2003.pdf

External Links

Department of Health: www.health.vic.gov.au/environment/home/asbestos.htm

WorkSafe: www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/wsinternet/WorkSafe/Home/Safety+and+Prevention/Health+And+Safety+Topics/Asbestos/

Environment Protection Authority: www.epa.vic.gov.au/waste/asbestos.asp

Better Health Channel: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Asbestos_in_the_home

Australian Asbestos Network: www.australianasbestosnetwork.org.au/Asbestos+Today/DIY+Renovators+Guide/default.aspx