Print Posted on 17/05/2017

Asbestos safety in the home

Asbestos safety in the home

If you are thinking of doing some DIY renovations to your home and it was built before 1987, you must consider the possibility that your home may contain asbestos and take the necessary precautions.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in building materials up until 1987. Asbestos may be found in fibro sheeting, roofing, guttering, downpipes and backing material on floor tiles and vinyl flooring, among other building materials.

According to the Department of Health, the improper renovation or demolition of materials containing asbestos may increase your exposure to asbestos, particularly if you are cutting or drilling these materials with power tools. This can cause short-term, high increases in airborne asbestos fibres. Fibre levels will reduce soon after the activity is completed but this type of exposure can increase the risk of disease, especially if asbestos dust is not cleaned up.

Asbestos can cause serious illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. The Department of Health advises that the level of exposure required to develop each of these diseases varies but there is no known safe exposure level of asbestos, particularly for mesothelioma. The risk of developing an asbestos-related disease increases with the number of asbestos fibres we are exposed to over time. People who used to work in the asbestos mining or processing industries were exposed to particularly high levels of asbestos, which is why most asbestos disease is found in former asbestos workers. However, not all people who worked with asbestos have developed an asbestos-related disease.

It is highly recommend that if you are undertaking renovations and believe some materials in your home may contain asbestos, you should call an expert to remove the material – do not attempt to remove it yourself and do not break or damage it in any way.

For more information, contact the Department of Health or your local asbestos removal specialist.