Asbestos Removal and Disposal Guidelines

Guide To Successful Asbestos Removal  

Proper way of handling asbestos

All types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx, ovary and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs). Given the fatal consequences of exposure to asbestos, it is common to have homeowners worried about its removal and proper disposal. Which is why you need a professional asbestos removal company to do the job. If you are concerned about  handling precautions and disposal methods that are safe for the community and environment then we have got you covered.

Asbestos Banned

If asbestos has so many side effects then why  did we use it? Well, asbestos was being used in almost every product until scientists discovered its role in cancer and related diseases. After this discovery almost every country took steps to ban it completely.  Though asbestos has been completely banned in Australia since December, 2003  which includes import and export of goods containing asbestos, it could still be found in many products that we are using till today. Before complete ban on asbestos, it was being used in more than 3000 products ranging from vehicles, construction material, appliances and clothing to our daily use items. If your home was constructed before 1990, chances are the construction material had asbestos.

Types of Asbestos

Before we proceed with removal guidelines, it is better to know what we are dealing with here. There are two types of asbestos i.e. Friable and Non-Friable and both require specific removal methods.

Friable Asbestos 

This type of asbestos is more prone to breaking and crumbling and can be easily damaged with even slightest of touch. Of course it takes some time to reach this stage where it could be damaged so easily. Examples of Friable Asbestos are insulation boards, pipe lagging, thermal insulation and sprayed coatings.

Friable asbestos could easily become airborne during the removal process and demands extra care in handling. For health and safety reasons, removal of friable asbestos-containing material should only be undertaken by a licensed asbestos removal contractor.

Non-Friable Asbestos

Non-Friable Asbestos is resistant to damage and abrasion and cannot be damaged by hand or by touch. But over the time, breaking and crumbling does happen which releases asbestos in the environment. Examples of Non-Friable asbestos include cement sheets, bitumen products, textured decorated coatings and vinyl floor tiles.

To remove any amount of friable asbestos, or more than 10 square meters of non-friable asbestos from your home, the asbestos removal contractor should be licensed.

 Asbestos Removal Methods 

As per ‘Code of Practice: How to Safely Remove Asbestos 2021’ there are three methods of asbestos removal.

Removing asbestos safely

Wet spray method 

An ideal method to avoid asbestos spread through air. This approach uses a low-pressure water spray from a garden hose or a water bottle to saturate the field. Always remember items should be damp. This is to prevent asbestos from breaking.

 Saturation and water injection method 

This method is mostly used for removal of Friable asbestos. When asbestos contaminated material is thick and water spraying the surface is not enough then this method is adopted. As the name suggests, water is injected though needles into the thickness of the material to wet the inside and avoid any breakage.

Dry method 

This method does not involve any water spraying of the area but relies on control measures. Some of the control measures include use of enclosed removal area, keeping the area at negative pressure, use of decontamination unit and appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) & RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment).

Asbestos Removal Steps 

Hiring an asbestos removal contractor is always a wise idea. However, if you do plan to do it yourself, make sure to follow these guidelines.

  • Cover the asbestos containment area with heavy plastic covers.
  • Keep the occupants away from the asbestos abatement area.
  • Turn off furnace and air conditioning systems and cover air flow vents with heavy plastic.
  • It is important to keep yourself safe and your clothes away from any contamination. To prevent direct contact, wear disposable coveralls and a respirator with a high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA).
  • Asbestos is dangerous if inhaled or ingested. Use water to settle the dust which is likely to arise during the removal process. Water spray from garden hose, garden sprayer or from water bottle would suffice.
  • If intact, asbestos is not much dangerous to the bystanders so any ripping, shredding, crumbling and breaking should be avoided during the removal process.
  • Prepare a leak-proof container and sealed tightly those remove products.
  • Clean these containers or plastic bags with soap and sponge and only then take them out of the area.
  • Clean the area with soap and water. Make sure there aren’t any left overs and area is free of any dust or residue.
  • Immediately dispose of removed materials from the site along with your gloves, footwear, coveralls and air filter. Dispose everything that has been exposed.
  • Change clothes wore under the coveralls and wash them without delay.
  • Take shower with soap and clean your hands in details that may have touched your coverall.
  • Do not eat, chew or smoke inside the contaminated area.

 Asbestos Disposal 

It is quite surprising that hazardous waste continue to arise each year, more than the rate of pollution growth. In Australia, average annual growth arising of hazardous waste between 2010-2011 and 2014 was 9% per year, with a 34% increase between 2017-2019. This large increase is mainly due to asbestos not disposed of proper .

In case of most of the hazardous waste and especially asbestos, only licensed landfills can accept it. You can search disposal facilities near you from here

Please follow these guidelines before taking your waste for disposal:

  • Contact the landfill or local council before taking out waste for disposal.
  • Find out if they accept household asbestos.
  • Find out how landfills accept delivery of the waste i.e. is there any requirement of special vehicle or it could be delivered in any disposal truck or any other delivery requirements.
  • Whether or not you need to make a reservation to dispose of asbestos. Most of the facilities require a booking 24 hours in advance.