Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that has excellent fire resistance, insulation properties, fibre strength, durability and flexibility. As a result, asbestos was used extensively in manufacturing of products used in the construction and manufacturing industries between the 1940s and 1980s.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen and inhalation of its fibres can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis after a long latency period.
Find out more general information about asbestos.
Asbestos was used in more than 3000 products and applications and it is estimated to be found in one in three homes across Australia. As a general rule, if your home was built before 1990, it is likely to contain some asbestos materials.
Unless the product was labelled, it is difficult to determine if something contains asbestos by sight. The only way to be certain that something contains asbestos is to have a sample tested at a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory.
Find out about common locations of asbestos and asbestos sampling and testing.
It is highly unlikely since the use of asbestos and all products containing asbestos was banned throughout Australia in 31 December 2003. The ban made it illegal to import, store, supply, sell, install, use or re-use these materials but did not apply to asbestos previously installed.
However in the past few years, there have been isolated instances of building materials imported into Australia found to contain asbestos. Find out more on the Department of Home Affairs website.
If the materials containing asbestos are in good condition, leave them alone. The asbestos containing material is not dangerous if it is undisturbed or sealed.
Review the tips when home renovating before you decide to remove the asbestos.
In a workplace, a licensed asbestos removalist is required to remove any amount of friable asbestos and more than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos.
It is recommended that homeowners engage a business licensed to remove asbestos for all domestic asbestos removal work.
Details of businesses licensed to remove asbestos in the Northern Territory are published on the NT WorkSafe website.
Asbestos must only be disposed of at a waste facility that is licenced to accept asbestos waste.
Find the nearest asbestos disposal location.
Breathing in asbestos fibres has been linked to asbestos-related diseases, all of which can be fatal. Asbestos-related diseases have a latency period of up to 40-50 years before they may take effect.
Currently there are no cures for these diseases. Find out more about the health effects of exposure to asbestos.
The likelihood of any particular person developing an asbestos-related illness depends on a number of factors, including:
Find out more about the risk of exposure.
There is no medical test to confirm exposure to asbestos. If you think you have been exposed you should register on the National Asbestos Exposure Register.
The only was to be certain that something contains asbestos is to have a sample tested in a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory.
Find out more about asbestos sampling and testing.
No, only a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory can test samples of materials that are suspected to contain asbestos.
Consider whether or not asbestos containing material will need to be disturbed during your renovation. It is recommended that home owners and home renovators hire a licensed asbestos removalist for all asbestos removal work. See more tips when home renovating.
If you are carrying out maintenance such as painting or sealing on asbestos cement that will not release any fibres into the air, then take the usual precautions for these activities (such as working in a ventilated area).
However, if you plan to disturb asbestos materials by cutting, drilling or removal, it is important to take precautions for handling asbestos to avoid risking your health or the health of your family. See more tips when home renovating.
There is no restriction on the amount or type of asbestos you can remove from your own house, but you must comply with transport and disposal requirements. Contact your local council for more information about how to dispose of your asbestos waste. Remember to take adequate precautions to avoid exposure to asbestos fibres. Find out more about transport and disposal of asbestos waste.
If you engage a tradesperson they must comply with work health and safety laws. Your tradesperson can remove up to 10m2 of non-friable asbestos without a licence. If the asbestos is friable or the non-friable asbestos is more than 10m2 , your tradesperson will need a licensed asbestos removalist to remove it.