How to safely remove asbestos from a building

If your house or workplace and buildings in your neighborhood was build before 1980, then there are huge chances of finding Asbestos in your home or workplace. Usually, during the 1980s Asbestos was very common when it comes to building houses because of its fire resistance nature. Most of the time there are no issues if your house contains any form of asbestos. If a material which contains asbestos damaged during the renovation or any sort of repairs only then you need to worry. Cause when a material containing asbestos gets disturbed, it releases tiny fibers in the air which can cause dangerous health issues even cancer.

How to safely remove asbestos from a building:

If your house or workplace and buildings in your neighborhood was build before 1980, then there are huge chances of finding Asbestos in your home or workplace. Usually, during the 1980s Asbestos was very common when it comes to building houses because of its fire resistance nature.

Most of the time there are no issues if your house contains any form of asbestos. If a material which contains asbestos damaged during the renovation or any sort of repairs only then you need to worry. Cause when a material containing asbestos gets disturbed, it releases tiny fibers in the air which can cause dangerous health issues even cancer.

What is Asbestos:

Asbestos is a term that refers to a combination of six silicate minerals,i.e. Chrysotile, Crocidolite, Amosite, Tremolite, Anthophyllite, Actinolite. The minerals you found in asbestos are naturally occurring that can be pulled into flexible fibers. Asbestos was used commercially and industrially during the 70s- 80s because of its extreme durability, fire resistance, and electric insulating nature.

Types of Asbestos can be found:

It is known that all forms of asbestos are banned in Australia from 31st Dec 2003. After that, any form of asbestos consumption can be under the legislation line that includes manufactures, mining, import, supply, transport, removal, storage, installation, and disposal.

If the material containing asbestos is not clearly labeled, it is very difficult to identify them. Testing yourself is not a good idea, you can get help from any licensed asbestos surveyor, they can run a test and find the materials that contain asbestos.

During the 70s - 80s house and building construction projects frequently used asbestos due to its durability. As a result, you can find usage of asbestos in the houses and buildings especially materials are likely to come into contact with heat for a long period. As a common knowledge, we can create a time span to identify when the heavy usage of asbestos happened :

  • Prior to the mid-80s:

The presence of 1st mining of asbestos in Australia was in 1930s Wittenoom, Western Australia. Eventually, during the 1950s-60s Wittenoom became the largest supplier of toxic blue asbestos or crocidolite. At that time, the usage of asbestos for building projects was very common.

  • The Mid 80s- 90s:

The mid-80s and 90s were the time when health issues for exposer to asbestos became very visible and the consumption of asbestos started to decline.

  • After the 90s:

After the 90s is the time when consumption of asbestos almost stopped and various rules took over the control on asbestos consumption.

Building products that contain asbestos can be divided into two categories. Such as:

  • Friable:

The characteristics of friable asbestos are-

  • They contain loosely bound fibers.
  • It can be brittle and crumble with light pressure after getting dry.
  • The fibers are very fine and cannot able to see in the bare eyes.
  • They can stay in the air for a long period and it can float and cover a long distance.

Because of this brittle nature and loosely bound fibers, friable asbestos can be riskier to deal with. A licensed removalist only can be able to remove friable asbestos.

  • Nonfriable:

As long as nonfriable asbestos is not disturbed they can remain the same for a long period. If you are following the safety precautions nonfriable asbestos has a very low risk of health hazards for the people who are in contact with them.

The characteristics can be-

  • Nonfriable asbestos is solid and cannot crumble by hand.
  • Because of its solidity, it can not be released in the air.

How to find Asbestos:

It is very difficult to find out an asbestos-containing material in any building. But there are some processes by which you can find out.

You can do the building project timeline checking. Usually, there can be three timelines.

  • Before the 1980s: The possibility of containing Asbestos material is huge if the building project made during the 1980s or before that time.
  • The 1980s - 1990s: During this time period people started to get away from using Asbestos. So the chances of using asbestos can be lower than the 70s or before.
  • After 1990: During this time usage of Asbestos almost stopped in any kind of Building project.
  • Where to find:

You can find various kind of products that contains asbestos in your house or buildings in your locality. We can divide into three separate sections for better understanding.

  • Inside of the building:
  • Fireplace area.
  • Air conditioning heater banks.
  • Wall tiles.
  • Floor tiles and sheets.
  • Sheeting and insulating for the wood heater.
  • Outside of the building:
  • Sheets for roofing.
  • Asbestos coated cement wall.
  • Asbestos molded water pipe, guttering, flues.
  • others:
  • Asbestos covered textile products. Such as oven gloves, mats, ropes.
  • Industrial paint, rubber, and plastic products.


Why Asbestos should be your concern:

Nowadays most of the products do not contain asbestos, but still, you can find some in old buildings made before the asbestos-related regulation started. Improper handling or if you don’t have any experience of removal of asbestos-containing materials, in that case, there are high chances to release thin fibers of Asbestos. This kind of thin fibers can remain in the air for a long time and can be carried over long distances by the wind.

In general, asbestos-containing material can be safe when it is untouched and in good condition and there is no sign of damage. If the material is damaged, it is suggested that the owner should take the help of any professional asbestos removalist and the owner should stay away from any kind of removal process.

Safety Precautions:

Both nonfriable and friable asbestos can be removed. The process can be manual or mechanical. In general, removing asbestos by yourself is not recommended.

But still, before you do it yourself, you need to consider some following cautions:

  • Do not use power tools, drill, sand and saw asbestos-containing material.
  • If you are planning to renovate or remove asbestos-containing materials, you should take advice from professionals.
  • Don’t do the complex job like insulation board or asbestos spray coating removal by yourself.

Still, if you want to do the removal process by yourself or you hire professionals you need to follow some basic precautions:

  • Always turn off the air conditioners while the removing process is going.
  • Seal and secure the working area with plastic sheets.
  • Wear a respirator with a HEPA ( high-efficiency particulate air) filter.
  • Wear disposable coverall and gloves while working or removing asbestos.
  • Keep the asbestos material wet with the help of a pump sprayer.
  • Use wet wipes and a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

Process of Removing:

According to Work Heath and Safety Act, 2012 any asbestos-related work, whether it is removing process or renovation home or building owner should hire a certified asbestos removalist and for removing asbestos the owner should follow these steps.

  • Find a registered Asbestos Removalist or a consultant:

Only a licensed consultant or a removalist can help you to find asbestos-containing material from your house. There can be two types of registrations for removalists.

  • Class A registration

Class A registered removalist can deal with friable asbestos.

  • Class B registration

Class B registered removalist can handle with nonfriable asbestos.

According to the type of asbestos, you can hire a removalist and they will start the process of removing.

  • Step 1:

Notify the local government about the removal process 5 days prior.

  • Step 2:

Before starting the removal process make sure an independent licensed consultant will find out the asbestos-containing material inside or outside the building.

  • Step 3:

Provide workers and employees protective clothes, equipment, and medical assessments.

  • Step 4:

Use specific methods for removal.

  • Step 5:

Dispose of the waste carefully.

  • Step 6:

Make a post-removal inspection to make sure the performed process happened according to the law.

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