Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) were used extensively in Australian buildings and structures, plant and equipment, ships, trains and vehicles during the 1950s to the early 1980s. A complete ban on asbestos use and import was imposed on 31st December, 2003.
As a guide, homes built from the year 1988 onwards should be asbestos free, while homes built before 1984 may contain a significant number of Asbestos Containing Materials.
Asbestos Products found Around the Home
Asbestos can be loosely or firmly bound in building materials in older homes. Loose asbestos fibres are the most dangerous as they can easily become airborne and be inhaled by occupants at the property. Most homes contain firmly bound asbestos which usually do not pose a threat to health unless damaged.
Common Asbestos Containing Materials are:
Exterior fibre cement cladding (Fibro) and weather boards (pre 1984)
Artificial brick cladding
Flexible building boards – eave linings, bathroom linings, cement tile underlay
All corrugated cement roofing
Architectural cement pipe columns
Vinyl floor tiles or coverings
Asbestos cement water pipes
Mill board linings of switchboards
Sprayed Insulation – Acoustic walls, beams and ceilings
The removal of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) can be a high risk task because there is often a significant disturbance when an ACM is damaged. This could mean exposure to airborne loose asbestos fibres that once inhaled, may become lodged into the respiratory system and cause a myriad of serious illnesses including cancer (mesothelioma).
A high degree of control is therefore essential during the removal of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM). Licensed removalists and bystanders within the asbestos work area need to be adorned in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This enables them to minimise the risk of exposure while at the same time ensuring that no asbestos contamination occurs outside the asbestos work area.
The work practices and precautions that need to be adopted for the removal of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) vary considerably, depending on the type of ACM involved, the conditions (for example, wind) and its location.
Due to the complexity and nature of the removal process, we highly recommended that any asbestos removal is carried out by an organisation that is fully licensed and trained in safe asbestos removal procedures.
Bonded Asbestos Removal – for the removal of 10m2 (square meters) or more of bonded asbestos can only be carried out by the holder of a class “B” licence. This licence is issued to applicants who can demonstrate they are familiar with the practices and procedures for removing bonded asbestos set out in the asbestos removal code.
A person that is carrying out the removal of bonded asbestos is not required to hold a “B” class licence if the person is directly supervised by an “A” Class license holder.
Note: Although an individual does not need to hold a “B” class licence for the removal of bonded asbestos under 10m2, this doesn’t mean that asbestos containing material is any safer to remove or the exposure to deadly airborne fibres does not exist.
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