Renovating? Pick up a free asbestos testing kit from Council
There are endless shows on the TV giving you hints and suggestions on how to improve your home from adding a deck or creating open plan living to creating special nooks and crannies in your garden. While it can be great fun to get in and create new spaces it is important to remember that there can be hidden dangers among that home improvement agenda.
This week it’s national Asbestos Awareness Week and now is a good time to remind people to check their properties for asbestos before starting any projects around the house.
Asbestos has been banned in Australia since 2003 but there are still many products containing asbestos in homes, especially those built before 1990.
While Absbestos materials left undisturbed pose a very low health risk to people – when they are released and inhaled that they can cause a range of serious illnesses.
Products around the house that may contain asbestos include:
- Roofs, eaves, downpipes, insulation
- Interior walls (often with a non-asbestos covering on the outside
- Kitchen splashbacks
- Under lino, some carpets, tiles (and the cement compounds used to stick tiles)
- Lagging around pipes, inside fuse boxes or as part of ventilation shafts
- Fences, garden sheds and small outdoor construction like chicken coops
- As part of bonded cement compounds that make up walls
Kate Akkerman, Byron Shire Council’s waste education and compliance officer, said people need to know where asbestos is so they can take precautions if they are planning to renovate or make repairs around the home.
Free asbestos testing kits
Byron Shire Council as well as Ballina and Lismore offer free asbestos testing kits. They can be collected from the customer service staff at office in Mullumbimby.
‘There are instructions in the test kit telling people how to take a sample and send it to a laboratory to get tested,’ Ms Akkerman said.
‘The results normally come back from the laboratory fairly quickly and depending what they show, people can either start work or alternatively take steps to have the asbestos managed and removed.
Asbestos removal kits are available from Byron Shire Council’s Resource Recover Centre at Myocum for use on areas less than 10m2.
For larger areas, greater than 10m2, removal must be undertaken by a licenced contractor. Material contaminated with asbestos is not accepted at the Myocum Resource Recovery Centre.
If people need to dispose of asbestos they should go to the NSW Environment Protection Agency website.
National Absestos Awareness Week runs from 25 November – 1 December.
For more information about asbestos go to: www.asbestos.nsw.gov.au, www.epa.nsw.gov.au or www.byron.nsw.gov.au/Services/Waste-recycling/Asbestos-removal-and-disposal.