Asbestos Removal

Frequently Asked Questions

How can asbestos affect my health?

Asbestos related diseases from studies of people who were exposed to asbestos we know that breathing the fibers can lead to an increased risk of:

Lung cancer;

Mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity; and

Asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibers inhaled. The risk of developing lung cancer from inhaling the fibers is also increased if you smoke. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos over a significant period of time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure.

Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos do not develop these health problems. However asbestos materials that are disturbed or broken may release fibers which can be inhaled into the lungs. Theses fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos materials that crumble easily when handled or that have been sawn, drilled, scraped, or sanded into a powder, are more likely to create a health hazard.


Where can I find asbestos and when can it be a problem?

The use of products containing asbestos was finally banned in 2004. However asbestos was widely used as building and insulation material until the mid 1980's and many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos. Common products that might be at risk and which may enable the material to release fibers, include:

Pipes, boilers, and heating systems: Insulated with an asbestos blanket, paper or insulation products. These materials may release fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly.

Soundproofing or Coating material sprayed on walls and ceilings. Loose, crumbly, or water–damaged material may release fibers when removal is attempted. So will sanding, drilling, or scraping the material.

Insulating Board Materials. Used to form wall panels, ceiling tiles, firebreaks etc. Loose, crumbly, or water–damaged material may release fibers when attempting removal. So will sanding, drilling, or scraping the material.

Cement sheet, millboard and paper used as insulation around heating systems and as wall panels. Repairing or removing appliances may release fibers. So may cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling or sawing insulation.

Thermoplastic floor tiles (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber), the backing on vinyl sheet flooring, and adhesives used for installing floor tiles. Sanding tiles can release fibers. So may scraping or sanding the backing of sheet flooring during removal.

Asbestos cement roofing. These products are not likely to release fibers during removal unless sawed, drilled, or cut.

Textured paints patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings. Sanding, scraping, or drilling these surfaces may release fibers.


What should be done about asbestos in the home?

If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic! If the material is in good condition it is normally safe to leave it where it is.

Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers and there is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs.

Check the material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don't touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release fibers. This is particularly true if you disturb it by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow.

Sometimes, the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it. Always consult with an asbestos removal specialist such as NSW Asbestos Removal if you believe you need to remove asbestos or dispose of materials or check with your local health, environmental, or other appropriate officials to find out proper handling and disposal procedures.

If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional contractor will be needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present by having an asbestos survey carried out.



Where asbestos hazards may be found in the home?

  • Some roofing(fibro) and panel materials are made of asbestos cement
  • Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints.
  • Internal walls and ceilings may be formed from insulating board materials.
  • Walls and floors around boiler units may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
  • Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
  • Hot water and heating systems may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape.

How to identify materials that contains asbestos?

You can't tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos or have it sampled and analyzed by a qualified professional. Only a professional such as NSW Asbestos Removal should take samples for analysis and asbestos testing, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released during the sampling process. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed should be left alone.


Do's and don'ts for the homeowner.

  • Do keep activities to a minimum in any areas having damaged material that may contain asbestos.
  • Do take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos material.
  • Do have removal and major repair done by people trained and qualified and licensed to work with asbestos. It is highly recommended that sampling and minor repair also be done by asbestos professionals.
  • Don't dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos
  • Don't saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos materials
  • Don't use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring or its backing. Never use a power stripper on a dry floor.
  • Don't sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing. When asbestos flooring needs replacing, install new floor covering over it, if possible.
  • Don't track material that could contain asbestos through the house. If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area, or if a large area must be cleaned, call an asbestos professional.

How to manage an asbestos problem.

If the asbestos material is in good condition and will not be disturbed, do nothing! If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal.

REPAIR usually involves either sealing or covering asbestos material.

Sealing (encapsulation) involves treating the material with a sealant that either binds the fibers together or coats the material so fibers are not released. Pipe and boiler insulation can sometimes be repaired this way. This should be done only by a professional trained to handle asbestos safely.

Covering (enclosure) involves placing something over or around the material that contains asbestos to prevent release of fibers. Exposed insulated piping may be covered with a protective wrap or jacket.

With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place. Repair is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make the future asbestos removal cost more expensive and the job more difficult. Repairs can either be major or minor.

Major repairs must only be carried out by a professional trained in methods for safely handling asbestos. Anything over 10 Sq meters requires a license.

Minor repairs should also be done by a professional since there is always a risk of exposure to fibers when materials are disturbed.

Doing minor repairs yourself is not recommended since improper handling of materials can create a hazard where none previously existed.

However removal may be required when making changes to your home that will disturb asbestos material. Removal may also be required if materials are damaged extensively and cannot be otherwise repaired. Removal is complex and any attempt to remove asbestos must only be undertaken by a licensed contractor such as NSW Asbestos Removal. Improper removal of materials may lead to the spread of asbestos contamination and therefore increase the risk to personal safety ant the general public.


Asbestos professionals: Who are they, and what can they do?

Asbestos professionals like NSW Asbestos Removal are trained in handling asbestos material. Under the NSW Government and Work Cover Guidelines.

They can conduct inspections, take samples of suspected material, assess its condition, and advise about the best methods for the removal or making safe of the asbestos containing materials that are identified.

CAUTION!

Do not dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.

If you require further information or would like to discuss a particular project please contact us today to discuss a package appropriate to your needs.


To obtain unbiased information about asbestos removal there are several Government sponsored sites which provide everything you will need to know about asbestos.