Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber that was a popular construction material used in many homes from the 1940s through the mid-1980s in Australia. It provided strength and durability to products and had excellent insulation properties. However, asbestos can present health problems that lead to a rare and dangerous form of lung cancer, mesothelioma. It can also lead to asbestosis, a prolonged lung disease.
When damaged, the microscopic fibers of asbestos become airborne and are easily inhaled. Once these fibers enter the body, they can cause health problems many years later. It is crucial to use high precautionary steps when removing asbestos, in order to minimize your health risks.
Australian homeowners are allowed to remove up to 10 square meters of non-friable asbestos from their property. However, nation, state, territory, and regional laws and regulations apply. You should check for any restrictions placed on the removal of asbestos from your property by your local authorities. Large removals may require building and demolition permits, and you may be required to do an asbestos audit prior to starting the removal process.
Certain Australian homeowners may choose to complete the removal process themselves due to the cost efficiency and it being possibly the only choice in a remote location in Australia.
Removing asbestos is not an easy chore. Having more than one person to help you with the removal is ideal, because it allows for one person to concentrate on the removal and the other person(s) to package the waste material and keep it wet until it is disposed of. Materials removed should be kept in storage in containers that are properly sealed and labeled to be taken to a landfill for asbestos. This should be located and notified prior to the removal.
There are certain items that you will need in order to remove asbestos safely from your home:
• Polyethylene plastic sheeting
• sprayer filled with soapy water (mix one cup of dish washing liquid to 20 liters of water)
• bags specifically designed for asbestos removal
• putty knife
• disposable overalls
• disposable gloves
• disposable shoe covers
• eye protection
• disposable towels for cleanup
• duct tape
Once you have gathered all of the materials required, you are ready to begin the following steps for removal:
1. Create an airlock by using the poly sheeting and duct tape to cover any doorways or openings leading into the room. This prevents asbestos fibers from being spread into other areas of the home. Then, hang another sheet 1.5 meters away, creating a small staging area between the sheets of plastic.
2. Cover any vents in the room by removing the vent covers and taping pieces of poly over them.
3. You do not want to make any trips in or out of the room during the removal or cleanup, so be sure to assemble all of your materials prior to beginning the process.
4. Clad your body with the disposable gloves, overalls, shoe covers, eye protection, and respirator.
5. Spray the entire material that you plan to remove using your premixed spray. It is important that you keep this wet throughout the entire process to minimize the risks of asbestos becoming airborne.
6. Use the putty knife to carefully scrape up the asbestos containing material. You may find it helpful to use a utility knife to score the tiles or sheeting first, so that the material can be removed in more manageable sized pieces.
7. Place asbestos materials in the appropriate disposal bags and tape them shut. Then, double tape the bag.
8. Wipe the entire floor, ceiling, and walls of the entire room thoroughly to remove any traces of asbestos fibers. You can set up a fan later to help with drying the area before you continue your remodeling project.
9. Remove plastic sheeting from doorways and vents, and dispose of them in the plastic bags, and tape as mentioned before.
10. Wipe your entire body down with a damp cloth, then remove and dispose of all of the disposable products appropriately as mentioned above. Always remove the respirators last. Be sure that anyone working on the removal showers very thoroughly after this process is complete.
11. Bring all containers to the landfill mentioned above as soon as possible for disposal.
Remember that asbestos, when left undisturbed, is nontoxic. By removing the asbestos, you could be creating more of a health risk than if it was left alone. Be sure to take samples to have tested prior to beginning to be sure that asbestos is actually present. When removing asbestos yourself, exercise the most extreme caution.