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Asbestos Resources: Your Handy Guideline

We provide a wide range of information about links, contacts, and resources you need to know when you are dealing with asbestos in the Australian Capital Territory Canberra.

 List of asbestos resources:

  1. What is asbestos?
  2. Types of asbestos
  3. Why is asbestos dangerous?
  4. Asbestos in Canberra City
  5. Where to find asbestos in my home?
  6. Asbestos regulations
  7. What to do when I find asbestos in my building?
  8. Authorised landfill for asbestos waste
  9. Important contacts

 

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a commercial term that includes a set of six naturally-occurring silicate minerals in the form of fibres. The substance is naturally formed in the environment and has been mined for centuries. Asbestos was widely used as building construction materials due to its great abilities, which are:

  1. Heat resistant;
  2. Giving strength under pressure;
  3. Chemical resistance;
  4. Water resistance or absorbency (depends on the asbestos type);
  5. Suitability for reinforcing and weaving;
  6. Electrical resistance.

As a result, most Australian buildings built before 2003 contain asbestos materials. This is because the use of asbestos was completely banned in 2003.

 

Types of Asbestos

There are three types of asbestos that frequently used in products, which are:

  1. Chrysotile;
  2. Crocidotile;
  3. Amosite

 

However, for commercial usage, usually asbestos comes in two forms:

  1. Friable asbestos: This kind of substance will crumble easily by hand power. Generally, this kind of asbestos product has high percentages of fibres. It will be dangerous when the product gets disturbed. It can easily go airborne and create contamination through out the environment. Friable asbestos poses a great health risk for people. It can only be removed by “A” class removalists.
  2. Non-friable asbestos: This kind of asbestos products usually is bonded firmly to other materials, such as cement. The product contains less fibre element than the friable type which is only up to 15% per product. The product is unlikely to go airborne easily and it poses a lower health risk. Therefore, it can be removed by “B” class licenced removalists.

Now before you are starting to remove any kind of asbestos product in your building; Try to find the most reliable asbestos removalist first.

Click here to know more about asbestos removalist licence: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/

 

Why is Asbestos Dangerous?

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Asbestos in Canberra City

Right until 2013, there were about 2% of the Canberra population who lived in Mr. Fluffy houses in Canberra. Mr. Fluffy has been proved responsible to numerous cases of mesothelioma. Here, people who suffered this deadly disease were all men.

Find out more about asbestos threat in Canberra through this link below:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-21/mr-fluffy-mesothelioma-risk-canberra-anu-study/8638670

 

Mishandling the Asbestos Product

As we know, asbestos is harmful for people. It is important to handle the products with care. Prevent yourself from endangering your life and the people around you with carelessly handling asbestos products.

Therefore, you are also responsible to keep the environment safe from asbestos contamination.

So, follow the ACT regulations and contact the local council immediately when you find:

  • A homeowner, home renovator, builder, or anyone who is unsafely removing, handling, transporting or disposing of asbestos material and/or waste illegally.
  • A business or contractor mishandles asbestos materials at a commercial property.

You can also reach the ACT Department of Justice and the Attorney General (Workplace Health and Safety ACT) on 13 22 81.

Click the following link to know further about asbestos information and complaints in Canberra area – https://www.act.gov.au

 

Where to Find Asbestos in My Home?

(Image)

 

As mentioned above, you can find asbestos products in two kinds of forms. In Australia, asbestos products are most likely to be found in buildings built before 2003.

And up until the 1960s, 25% of all new housing was clad in asbestos cement in Australia (Leigh & Driscoll, 2002). [1]

Click the following links below to know further about asbestos products in a building:

https://www.asbestossafety.gov.au/asbestos-information

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/asbestos-toc~asbestos-when-and-where

 

Asbestos Regulations

On 31 December 2003, materials containing all forms of asbestos were no longer able to be sold, used, reused, manufactured, imported, supplied, stored, transported, installed or replaced in Australia (Safe Work Australia, 2010). [2] 

Therefore, for safety reasons, if you happen to own a building that was built before 2003, it will be better for you to have a thorough inspection. Now increase your knowledge about asbestos regulations through your local council website. Every activity involves asbestos must be done under the regulated law.

Check Asbestos Laws and Compliance here – https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/laws-and-compliance/workplace-health-and-safety-laws/laws-and-legislation/codes-of-practice

 

What to Do When I Find Asbestos in My Building?

If you found any suspected material that might contain asbestos, do not touch it! As mentioned above, it will be dangerous to have a direct contact with this harmful substance. Especially, when the suspected product is broken or damaged.

Basically, if the asbestos product is in good condition, it will be better for you to leave it undisturbed. However, you also must consider that the product will never be in good condition forever. You will never know when it will be broken or damaged. That is why, you need an asbestos removal work.

Ask yourself with these questions to initiate your plan on removing any asbestos product from your place:

  • Is it safe to leave the product alone?
  • Is it safe and qualified to remove the product by yourself?
  • What is the requirement to uninstall the asbestos product?
  • What does the regulation say about removing asbestos?
  • Do you need to hire a licenced asbestos removalist?

For further information about removing the asbestos products safely, click the following link – https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/58194/how-to-safely-remove-asbestos-cop-2011.pdf

 

Authorised Landfills for Asbestos Waste

Asbestos disposal is an important matter. The activity is strictly regulated by the local council, which will be different in every city. In other words, you can not dump the asbestos waste in a regular garbage bin. You should contact your nearest local council to know more about how to dispose of asbestos waste legally.

 

Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre

Mugga Lane, Symonston.

Click the following link to know more about asbestos disposal information in Canberra – https://www.act.gov.au/recycling/what-goes-in-the-yellow-bin/a#Asbestosmore250

 

Important Contacts

Now you know the urgency of handling asbestos with care. You should save these contacts below if you need to know further about asbestos.

 

ACT Government

For complaints and urgent enquiries.

Contact details

Website: https://www.act.gov.au

 

WorkSafe ACT

WorkSafe ACT is the regulator who is responsible for improving work health and safety in ACT. WorkSafe ACT also works to reduce the accidental risk for workers in workplaces. This also includes to manage, control, and arrange the asbestos removal works in workplaces.

Contact details

Tel: +61 419 120 028

Website: http://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/health_safety

 

ACT Health

ACT Health manages the regulations of asbestos-related activities which occur at non-workplaces, such as domestic premises or residential property. However, the responsibility is carried by the local government. The local government maintains and responds to asbestos incidents in residential settings.

Contact details

Website: http://www.health.act.gov.au/

 

Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate

The Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate is accountable for overseeing the businesses and individuals in complying and following the Environmental Protection Act 1994. Environmental Protection Act 1994 is a regulation that controls legal obligations on people who do activities that might contaminate the environment. Public can report illegal asbestos dumping to Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate.

Contact details

Tel: 13 22 81

Address: Dame Pattie Menzies House, 16 Challis Street, Dickson ACT 2602

Website: https://www.environment.act.gov.au

 

National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA)

NATA is the authority who is responsible for the accreditation of laboratories, particularly for identifying and examining the asbestos material. NATA is also capable of creating certified reference materials and testing scheme providers throughout Australia.

Contact details

Tel: 1800 621 666

Website: https://www.nata.com.au/

 

Canberra Community Council 

Local Council controls many transfer stations and landfills for asbestos. The local government is also capable of handling and responding to asbestos incidents in non-workplace settings, such as residential properties under public health legislation.

Contact details

Website: https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/

 

References:

[1] Leigh J & Driscoll T 2002. Malignant mesothelioma in Australia, 1945–2002 International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 9(3), 206–217
[2] http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/850/Asbestos%20related%20disease%20indicators%202014.pdf