Asbestos awareness is extremely important for anyone, whether you live across the world, or right here in the Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle region. Asbestos awareness training is something that should be taken especially seriously if you are working in any potential situation where asbestos could be found.

There are so many facets to asbestos, which we have covered extensively in our regular blog, that it can be overwhelming to know where to begin your education. Like learning anything new, the hardest part is knowing where to start. That’s why we thought we’d put together a brief set of the most frequently asked questions and give you some answers right on the same page. 

From the informative to the practical, here is your go to asbestos faqs section:

1. Why is Asbestos dangerous?

When any material that contains asbestos is disrupted or damaged, fibres are released into the air. When these tiny fibres are inhaled, they are at risk of developing serious diseases such as Mesothelioma (a lung cancer affecting the lining of the lungs), or Asbestosis (a long term inflammation and scarring of the lungs). These diseases don’t affect you immediately but develop over a long period of time, so once diagnosed, it is usually too late to do anything.

2. How do I know if the house I am buying contains asbestos?

A common question for buyers of older houses. The short answer is you can’t really know until you have had the house assessed by a qualified professional. However, if the house you’re wanting to buy was built before the mid 1980’s there’s a good chance that it does – a lot of houses built before this time were made from asbestos products.

3. Can I remove asbestos by myself?

If the area is 10 square metres or less, then legally you can remove it yourself, any more and you are legally required to contact a professional service. If you do decide to DIY wear Personal Protective Equipment, wet the area before removing (to help stop the fibres floating around), and do not throw or drop any of it!

4. Who is Mr Fluffy?

Mr Fluffy was the name of a popular type of insulation that was used heavily in Australia in the 1960’s and 1970’s. And you guessed it, the insulation was made from raw asbestos fibres and installed in roofing all around the country, the most infamous in Canberra. If you’re worried about the possibility that this stuff might be in your roof, contact Service NSW on 13 77 88, or the NSW government has some information here.

5. Can I bury asbestos in the ground?

No! Not only is it illegal, it poses serious health risks.

6. So then, where and how do I dispose of asbestos?

You can contact your local council for waste facilities in your area. Alternatively, the EPA (Environment Protection Authority) will provide you with information if you call 13 15 55. Here is some great information on where to start.

7. How do I recognise it?

It is very difficult to identify materials that actually possess asbestos or not. That’s why we exist! The identification of this nasty stuff legally needs to be done by qualified professionals. But again, as a rule of thumb, if your house was built before the mid 1980’s then there is a high chance that there is some somewhere.

8. How can I be sure a removalist is licensed?

Simply ask them for a copy of their licence. If you’re really concerned you can call SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50 to confirm that they have the appropriate class of licence for the job. 

9. I’m renting and think there might be asbestos in my home. What do I do?

Quite simply, contact your agent or the owner immediately and tell them about your concerns. Make sure that when someone does come to inspect the property that they are a licensed professional.

10. What is the best number to call for any asbestos enquiries?

The Asbestos Hotline (1800 272 378) was established by The NSW Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA). They provide free advice and guidance on any asbestos-related issues and is the central point of contact for all asbestos enquiries in NSW.