Asbestos removal is the process of handling and getting rid of the harmful fibres that are known to cause severe lung conditions. DIY asbestos removal is not technically illegal in most states of Australia, but there are some strict regulations around asbestos management. Furthermore, the Australian Department of Health strongly advises against the average homeowner managing or handling asbestos – the fibres once favoured for its beneficial properties is a serious danger to one’s health.
Asbestos is the name given for a family of naturally occurring minerals. Back before the official ban in 2003, asbestos was favoured for its beneficial properties in the construction and manufacturing industries. The material was best known for its strength, durability, heat resistance, and ability to provide these properties when mixed in with other materials.
Today, however, asbestos is strictly regulated. The health concerns associated with asbestos exposure mean that the use, selling of, manufacturing of, and purchasing of asbestos is strictly prohibited in Australia. The problem we now face as a nation is the sheer amount of asbestos that remains in situ.
The government estimates that approximately one-third of all Australian properties contain asbestos in some form or another. As more of these homes begin to age, more property owners face the reality that is asbestos management and removal to protect their health and their property. The question everyone wants to know is, can I remove asbestos from my own house?
Asbestos Handling & Removal
DIY asbestos removal is not recommended, and in some states, is illegal. In the ACT, a licensed asbestos technician must execute all asbestos removal work. In all other states and territories, a non-licensed person is technically allowed to remove non-friable asbestos as long as the area is no bigger than 10 square meters.
Can I Remove Asbestos from My Own House?
For all intents and purposes, this article will be directed at those not situated in the ACT. In the ACT, the law requires homeowners to employ a licensed asbestos removalist to manage any asbestos materials.
In all other states and territories, the answer to how much asbestos can be removed is that a homeowner may remove non-friable asbestos materials from their property, in minimal amounts. Non-friable asbestos refers to asbestos-containing materials that have not been disturbed, damaged, broken or cut in any way – they have to be entirely sealed and tightly bound to class as non-friable.
However, it is strongly recommended that no one handle asbestos without the necessary qualifications. Asbestos by nature is a very brittle material – if there is any chance of fibres releasing into the air, they are incredibly harmful to human exposure.
How Much Asbestos Can Be Removed?
Homeowners are technically allowed to remove ten square meters of asbestos, as long as the material is entirely non-friable. As a general guide, ten square meters is roughly the size of an average bathroom or four sheets of asbestos cement wall sheeting. Asbestos removal tasks generally involve larger areas – if one area contains asbestos sheeting, there is likely to be more asbestos sheeting throughout the house. How much asbestos can be removed really depends on the type of asbestos too. In most cases, a licensed asbestos removalist will almost always be legally required.
DIY Asbestos Removal – How Much is Allowed?
When it comes to DIY asbestos removal – how much is allowed to remove, it really depends on where you live and the council regulations that apply to your property. The ten square meter regulation applies to all states and territories apart from the ACT; in which no one is allowed to undertake DIY asbestos removal without appropriate licensing.
In terms of DIY asbestos removal, the Australian government enforces strict regulation on who is allowed to do so and how much asbestos they are allowed to handle. In essence, DIY asbestos work is strongly advised against in general. The dangers associated with asbestos in combination with the sheer fragility of the material means that asbestos management is one of the most hazardous jobs one can undertake.
The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency has made a note of some strict guidelines for DIY Asbestos Removal:
- Only non-friable asbestos must be removed.
- Less than 10 square meters can be removed from one site.
- The person undertaking the asbestos removal must be competent (have completed training and have access to the right equipment).
- Most insurance policies will not take responsibility for any work relating to asbestos. This is important as it means that as a DIY renovator, you are liable to pay very expensive and comprehensive clean-up and repair costs.
- Anyone coming into contact with any suspected asbestos materials must give notice to their local council, neighbours, and anyone in their immediate vicinity.
And remember, just because a non-licensed person is allowed to handle non-friable asbestos under ten square meters, does not mean they should. If you’re still wondering “can I remove asbestos from my own house?” consider the danger you face when undergoing a task that is normally executed with strict protective and safety measures. Asbestos management can be extremely harmful to health – it really is best to rely on a professional.
Professional Asbestos Removal
We’re not just saying this because it’s in our scope of practice: asbestos management is very dangerous. Even if you consider yourself to be relatively handy, removing asbestos yourself is not worth the risk. Asbestos is naturally fragile by nature; when you handle asbestos-containing materials, there’s every chance asbestos fibre can release into the air and make their way into your lungs.
Unlicensed asbestos removalists put themselves and those around them in great danger when they undertake asbestos management. The reality is, there is absolutely no way a non-licensed worker can execute asbestos removal as safely and as appropriately as a professional. When you engage with a licensed asbestos worker, you’re working with a professional that has undergone rigorous training, is educated on the many states of asbestos, and likely has a wealth of experience behind them in the safe management and handling of asbestos materials.
Licensed asbestos removalists will be able to take care of any type of asbestos – friable or non-friable – safely seal it off from the rest of the property to ensure the fibres do not further contaminate, remove the materials with care and necessary precaution, and dispose of the asbestos in the designated area. Safe inspection, removal, and disposal of asbestos materials is crucial to maintaining the safety of a property.
GBAR Group are Australia’s leading team of asbestos technicians. Licensed and trained in almost every state of Australia, GBAR Group have over 15 years of experience working with and around asbestos. We have both the skills and the necessary equipment to handle every asbestos situation – big or small. Don’t run the risk of putting your health or your family’s health in danger – call the asbestos removal professionals at GBAR Group in Sydney, Brisbane, and the Sunshine Coast.