Home Renovations and Asbestos

If you are reading this, you are undertaking or contemplating renovations and are concerned about the likelihood of asbestos in your property.

Thank you for considering the health of your family and pets.

Did you know that the next big wave of deaths from asbestos will be due to DIY renovators?

The parents of Adam Sager did not know that their renovations would kill their son when he turned 25. Adam died on 29 April 2007 aged 25. His parents renovated their home when Adam was 18 months old.

Losing breath – The Adam Sager story

Julie and Don Sager’s son, Adam was unknowingly exposed to asbestos dust when he was 18 months old.

Don’t Become a Statistic!

BEFORE RENOVATIONS

Before you commence renovations ensure you know where all asbestos is located.

DO NOT undertake renovations without an asbestos inspection.

No one can tell what contains asbestos just by looking at it. A sample must be tested at a NATA accredited laboratory.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?

DIY

If you are undertaking the renovations yourself, then you are totally responsible to identify all asbestos.

Remember that you may only remove up to 10m2 of “non-friable” asbestos. After 10m2, and for any “friable asbestos” you need a licensed asbestos removalist.

[Non-Friable generally refers to sheeting.] 

Contractor

If you are engaging a contractor, then legally the contractor is responsible to identify all asbestos and take adequate precautions.

However, some contractors do not take the health risks seriously and damage asbestos because they wish to save money. If they damage the asbestos, it is you and your family that are at risk of contracting an asbestos disease.

We recommend that you have the asbestos inspection conducted, and provide a report to the contractor. This way the contractor will know the presence of asbestos and quote accordingly. This will save you money as the contractor will then not charge a variation.

CAN I TAKE MY OWN SAMPLE?

Yes!

As long as you follow the correct procedures, then you can take samples and send to QBM to have them analysed.

CAN I JUST ASSUME THAT THINGS CONTAIN ASBESTOS?

Yes, But it will cost you.

If you just assume that all material contains asbestos then the cost of the renovations will significantly increase.  Why pay extra to remove materials that do not contain asbestos?

WHAT ABOUT AN “ASBESTOS GUN?”

The use of an “asbestos gun” IS NOT an approved method of identifying asbestos under Australian Work Health and Safety Legislation and WHS Authorities have taken action to stop the false advertising about this product. 

SAMPLING PROCEDURES

Step 1 – Preparation

  • Make sure no one else is in the vicinity when sampling is done.
  • Shut down any heating or cooling systems to minimize the spread of any released fibres.
  • Turn off any fans if you’re inside. If outside, then sample on a non windy day.
  • Do not disturb the material any more than is needed to take a small sample.
  • Collect the equipment you will need for sampling, including:
    • pliers, resealable plastic bags, disposable coveralls, waterproof sealant, plastic drop sheet, water spray bottle
    • P2 respirator, rubber gloves.

Step 2 – Taking the sample 

  • Wear disposable gloves.
  • Put on respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
  • Wear a pair of disposable coveralls.
  • Lay down a plastic drop sheet to catch any loose material that may fall off while sampling.
  • Wet the material using a fine mist of water containing a few drops of detergent before taking the sample. The water/detergent mist will reduce the release of asbestos fibres.
  • Carefully cut a thumb nail piece from the entire depth of the material using the pliers.
  • For fibre cement sheeting, take the sample from a corner edge or along an existing hole or crack.
  • Place the small piece into the resealable plastic bag.
  • Double bag the sample, include the date and location and an asbestos caution warning. 
  • Tightly seal the container after the sample is in it.
  • Carefully dispose of the plastic sheet.
  • Use a damp paper towel or rag to clean up any material on the outside of the container or around the area sampled.
  • Dispose of asbestos materials according to state or territory and local procedures.
  • Patch the sampled area with the smallest possible piece of duct tape to prevent fibre release.
  • Complete this form and call QBM to organise payment.
  • Place the sample bag into the envelope and post to QBM.

Step 3 – Cleaning up

  • Seal the edges with waterproof sealant where the sample was taken.
  • Carefully wrap up the plastic drop sheet with tape and then put this into another plastic rubbish bag.
  • Wipe down the tools and equipment with a dampened rag.
  • Place disposable gloves and coveralls into a rubbish bag, along with the damp rag and drop sheet.
  • Seal plastic bag.
  • Wash hands.
  • Keep RPE on until clean-up is completed.
  • Follow a decontamination procedure (personal washing) upon completion of the task.