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I get it. We live in a fear driven world where no one wants to take responsibility for themselves and companies cower at the thought of potential lawsuits. But if you are like me, you will often find yourself wondering what is legitimate danger and what is just rules given to protect the rulemakers. 

And now you find yourself with a building containing a little (or a lot) of asbestos – the big bad boogie man. I can hear you thinking… Can I remove asbestos? How bad can removing asbestos myself really be? Can’t I just demolish it myself like any asbestos removal company?

Well let’s break it down, so that you have the facts and you can be the one to decide what is best for you.

Firstly, What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural mineral found in the ground. People are often surprised to learn that asbestos is organic, non-GMO, and vegan friendly!  Asbestos fibres are soft and flexible and are highly resistant to heat, wear and electricity. It is an extremely useful natural resource that can be used in so many applications. But – it is now banned in new products in Australia. Why?

Rock containing natural asbestos

Rock containing natural asbestos

What Is So Dangerous About It?

Asbestos is made up of teeny tiny little fibres that are almost invisible to the naked eye that can easily float around in the air we breathe. It has been found that when breathed in, these fibres can become lodged in the body’s cells (usually the lungs) and cause scarring, inflammation and tumors. You really don’t want to breathe this stuff in. 

What’s more, asbestos is everywhere. Due to its usefulness, asbestos can be found in cars, houses, the workplace, public buildings and thus it generally just floats around in the air. Already dangerous, widespread use of asbestos increases the hazard. 

Health Issues Related To Asbestos 

The World Health Organization released data from 2004 stating that 107 000 deaths occurred in that year alone from asbestos- related conditions such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Ever heard of DALY’s (Disability Adjusted Life Years)? This is the measure of the burden a disability inflicts on a person’s life. Where one DALY represents the loss of one healthy year of life, the WHO indicate that asbestos related disabilities caused the loss of over 1.5 million Daly’s in 2004. 

Still Considering a DIY Approach to Removing Asbestos?

If you are still considering removing bonded asbestos material yourself, then certain safety precautions must be followed. With this in mind, a limit of 10 square metres has been set for removing asbestos in NSW. If the amount is greater than this you must get a SafeWork NSW license or hire professional assessors and removalists who will perform asbestos testing and safe removal from the work area. 

When dealing with Friable asbestos a licensed asbestos removal contractor must be hired. 

Equipment and How To:

  1. Notify neighbours – it’s their health at risk too. 
  2. Prepare the work site first – lay heavy builders plastic down first so that particles and asbestos can be easily folded up, taped and stored securely before disposal. 
  3. Wear PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) – don’t skimp. 
  4. Don’t use power tools – these will release asbestos fibres into the air.
  5. Keep work area wet – this will keep asbestos dust down.
  6. Seal off areas you particularly don’t want asbestos fibres to go – children’s play areas, inside buildings etc. 
  7. Secure – place removed asbestos sheeting on plastic. Double warp and secure with tape. 
  8. Clean up – dispose of coveralls and masks. Don’t use household vacuum cleaners to suck up asbestos dust. 
  9. Disposal – dispose of ALL asbestos waste at an approved landfill site. It is illegal to reuse or dump asbestos waste anywhere else. 

Find an asbestos approved landfill site on the Central Coast, Hunter or Sydney here.

Removing even the smallest amount of asbestos is extremely hazardous. The risks are real and not fear based. Please consider hiring a licensed asbestos removalists. About The House provide asbestos testing from the Northern Beaches and Hornsby to the Central Coast and Newcastle and provide safe and professional removal and disposal. 

Before doing any DIY asbestos removal please thoroughly acquaint yourself with the information provided by the NSW government here and be careful to follow the steps meticulously.