Asbestos is an ongoing issue in Queensland, with many pre-1990 homes containing asbestos in some form. You should be aware of the likelihood of asbestos being disturbed while performing renovations or demolition prior to starting work.
Asbestos has not been used in construction products since 1989, and has been banned in Australia since 2003. However, many homes built in the boom after World War II may contain asbestos.
If you own or are purchasing property built prior to 1990, you should assume there may be some asbestos present and will need to factor this into the renovation process. If you are ever unsure whether a product in your home contains asbestos, the safest option is to assume that it does and treat it accordingly.
Products containing asbestos are not known to cause harm, providing they are not disturbed or damaged. It is only once these products are disturbed that fibres become airborne and the chance of a renovator breathing in fibres becomes significantly increased. It is the fibres from disturbed or damaged asbestos products that can cause significant health effects, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
In most cases, if the asbestos in your home has not been damaged and does not need to be removed as part of the renovation process, the safest option is not to touch it.
Where is asbestos found?
Products containing asbestos were used in a variety of locations in residential homes, including the bathroom and floor coverings. The below diagram demonstrates some of the possible locations where asbestos may be found in your home.
Regardless of government regulations and due to the significant risks associated with asbestos removal, Master Builders recommends that, if you plan on undertaking any renovations which may require the removal of asbestos products, you should engage a licensed asbestos removalist to complete the task. These licensed removalists have received the appropriate level of training to ensure they can remove, transport and dispose of the asbestos safely.
Use the Find a Master Builder search to locate Master Builders members in your area who specialise in asbestos removal.
We also recommend you consider the implications of DIY renovations or owner building in general before you commence.
The dangers of asbestos
The Queensland Government has published a video on the dangers of asbestos removal entitled Losing breath, which tells the tragic story of Adam Sager who died from mesothelioma (an asbestos related disease) at the age of 25.
It is a timely reminder to always engage a licensed asbestos removalist to safely remove asbestos from your home.
Read the Queensland Building and Construction Commission's (QBCC) information on asbestos, contact the Queensland Government Asbestos Hotline on 13 74 68 or read the Queensland Government’s Home Renovators Guide to Minor Work in Domestic Properties for more information.