During the 1940s to late 1980s asbestos was widely used as building material. Before the health risks were known it was used, due to it being durable, fire resistant and having good insulation properties. Such products included roofing material, guttering, vinyl flooring, ceiling tiles, fire proofing, and many more applications.
The manufacture and use of asbestos products was banned nationally from 31 December 2003. This ban applies to manufacture, supply, storage, sale, use, reuse, installation and replacement of asbestos, except in special circumstances (e.g. removal and disposal of asbestos, bona fide research, etc.).
The human health effects from exposure to asbestos are well documented. Inhaling one fibre does not mean you will get an asbestos related disease.
If you suspect a building or place has asbestos dust, do not disturb it. Contact a licensed contractor: they are listed in the Yellow Pages under 'asbestos removal and treatment'.
Who is at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases?
We are all exposed to low levels of asbestos in the air we breathe every day. Most people do not become ill from low levels of asbestos present in the environment. Most people are also exposed to higher levels of asbestos at some time in their lives; for example, in their workplace, community or home. However, for most people, this kind of infrequent exposure is also unlikely to result in any ill effects.
Most people who develop asbestos-related diseases have worked on jobs where they frequently breathed in large amounts of asbestos fibres. For example, in the past, construction workers using unsafe practices may have frequently encountered asbestos fibre levels well above background levels. In the past, workers in asbestos milling or mining often encountered fibre concentrations a million times higher than background levels.
Family members of exposed workers or those who lived close to active asbestos mines (Australia now has none) are also at risk. An exposed worker or home renovator can carry asbestos fibres on their clothing, boots, skin, hair and tools. Householders should be alert to ensure family members are not exposed to these fibres.
If left untouched, asbestos poses no immediate danger. Asbestos products that are mishandled, broken or disturbed through activities such as pressure cleaning and cutting or sanding with power tools can release the hazardous fibres.
How to identify Asbestos
Asbestos fibres are not visible to the naked eye but, they are very light, remain airborne for a long time, and can be carried by wind and air currents over large distances.
It is difficult to identify asbestos by sight, but as a rule, if your house was built:
- before the mid 1980s it is more than likely to contain asbestos materials
- between the mid 1980s and 1990 it is likely to contain asbestos materials
- after the 1990s it is highly unlikely to contain asbestos materials.
Products that may contain asbestos include:
- flat, corrugated or bitumen roofing material
- ceiling tiles
- vinyl and thermoplastic floor tiles and backing to vinyl flooring
- carpet underlay (hessian)
- internal and external wall sheeting, textured coatings
- gutters, rainwater pipes and water tanks
- insulation around pipes and electrical equipment
- fire proofing around flues and ducts
- sprayed on to steelwork.
Don’t endanger yourself, your family and your community by trying to remove or demolish asbestos yourself.
If you are renovating your home and your house was built prior to 1990 investigate further about the types of material the house maybe made of. Queensland Health and Work Safe encourage home owners to employ the services of a Licensed Asbestos removal company. It is not worth the risk to your or others health.
A Licensed person has the correct equipment for removal and disposal and cleanup of the area safely.
Disposal of Asbestos
Some of Council’s Landfill disposal sites take asbestos waste. However, there are stipulations when a person wishes to use these facilities:
- Material must be double wrapped in black plastic.
- 48 hours’ notice is required – this is to ensure that the waste material delivered to Landfill can be covered immediately.
- Commercial clients must produce a Waste Transport Certificate.
- Payment will be required at the gate unless a Monthly Waste account has been approved.
Lodge a Service Request
- If you believe a homeowner, occupant or owner-builder is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos material or a person has illegally dumped asbestos waste, Please contact Council immediately on (07) 4189 9100.
- If you believe a business or contractor is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos materials, phone the Queensland Department of Justice and the Attorney-General (Workplace Health and Safety Queensland) on 1300 369 915.
- A guide for Home Renovators – minor renovations (PDF)
- A guide for householders and the general public
You can contact the state departments on
- Queensland Health on phone: 1300 744 636
- Workplace Health and Safety Queensland on phone: 1300 369 915