Asbestos cement (AC) building products are not a health risk if left undisturbed in buildings. However, safe work procedures must be followed to remove it. Asbestos needs to be handled with extreme caution to minimise the release of potentially harmful fibres.
Removing asbestos safely
- Keep asbestos cement sheets wet with water during removal or sprayed with a PVA (polyvinyl acetate) solution
- Wear disposable coveralls and either a class P1 or P2 disposable mask if you are in the AC removal area
- Use only non-powered hand tools or portable power tools incorporating dust suppression or dust extraction attachments designed to collect asbestos fibres
- Take care to remove asbestos cement products to ensure minimal breakage. Roofing materials are to be lowered to the ground, not dropped
- Stack removed sheets on polythene sheeting, then wrap and seal into bundles for disposal, or place directly into disposal bins that have been lined with polythene sheeting and seal for disposal
- Don’t leave sheets lying about where they may be further broken or crushed
- When stacking removed sheets take care not to slide one sheet over another, which could release fibres
- Clean or seal roof gutters before removing
- Clean any visible asbestos cement residue remaining in the roof space or within the removal area with an approved vacuum cleaner if necessary
- Keep all waste containing asbestos wet, and wrap in polythene or seal, and remove from the site as soon as possible
Disposing in landfill sites
Within the Metropolitan area, asbestos cement waste must be disposed of in line with the Environmental Protection (Controlled Waste) Regulations 2001:
- Material containing asbestos must be separated from all other waste
- Wrapped in plastic in line with the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992
- Clearly labelled and marked ‘Caution Asbestos’ in writing at least 5cm high
The use of high-pressure equipment to clean materials that contain asbestos is strictly prohibited. This includes the use of compressed air or high-pressure water jets.
It is an offence to sell, swap, give away or supply second-hand asbestos cement sheeting.
To find a disposal sites licensed to accept asbestos controlled waste, contact the Department of Environment and Conservation on 6364 6500.
For information on safe handling of asbestos products, and asbestos in the home, contact the City’s Environmental Health Services on 9474 0777 or Department of Health on 9388 4999.
For information about asbestos in the workplace, contact WorkSafe on 9327 8777