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You may suspect you have asbestos-containing material in your home. Perhaps, you have already confirmed it, and you're wondering to yourself: can you remove asbestos yourself? This is not a question to take lightly. Asbestos removal can be a considerable health risk.
In this post, you can find an answer to this question. You will also learn how to remove friable and non-friable asbestos materials and the health effects of asbestos exposure. This post contains some tips on removing asbestos, safety considerations, and some FAQs on asbestos removal. Read on for more.
Should You Remove Asbestos Yourself?
In the ACT (Australian Capital Territory), you need a licensed asbestos removalist to carry out any asbestos removal work. Apart from in the ACT, you are permitted as a homeowner to remove no more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos.
However, it would be best to use a licensed asbestos removalist to properly adhere to safety precautions. On the other hand, if the total quantity of asbestos exceeds 10 square metres, you compulsorily have to hire a licenced asbestos removalist.
Meanwhile, an alternative in some territories is to attend the appropriate training course and obtain a bonded asbestos removal licence. Most importantly, you must hire a qualified asbestos removalist to remove loose or friable asbestos.
Removal of friable asbestos materials
Only an asbestos removal contractor with a friable asbestos licence can remove asbestos in crumbled, pulverised, or powder form. Such licensed asbestos removalists must possess an 'A' class licence to qualify for friable asbestos removal.
The work must also follow the workplace asbestos removal requirements as detailed in How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice 2021. The removalist must seal off the asbestos work area and undertake air monitoring to ensure proper removal methods. You will need a clearance certificate from licensed removalists when friable asbestos removal is complete.
Asbestos Removal Certificate for Home Renovators
The following are some certificate requirements for asbestos removal.
Non-friable asbestos removal: Over 10 square metres
Before home renovators and owner-builders can perform asbestos removal and disposal involving over ten square metres of non-friable or bonded asbestos materials, they must have obtained the relevant approved certificate.
The required courses to obtain the certificate for self-removal of over 10 square metres of bonded materials containing asbestos as approved by the Department of Health include:
- Module CPCCDE3014A: A remove non-friable asbestos course offered by Registered Training Organisations.
- Diy asbestos removal course: An online or face-to-face course offered by Keys Human Resources.
Public health laws also relate to the DIY removal of non-friable asbestos-containing materials.
Non-friable asbestos removal: Below 10 square metres
While removing 10 square metres or less of non-friable materials containing asbestos does not require a certificate, there are other requirements. Specifically, you must follow safety precautions such as local health and safety laws. Likewise, you should follow safe work procedures that reduce the risk of releasing asbestos fibres.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a term that refers to naturally occurring materials that were commonly used in the construction industry up until the late 1980s. They were standard in building materials.
Health effects of exposure to asbestos fibres
Some of the health effects of asbestos exposure include the following:
- Lung cancer
- Pleural plaques
Asbestos-containing materials in the home
Undisturbed asbestos-containing materials may not be harmful if left undisturbed. However, friable asbestos from your home can pose serious health risks. Here are some examples of asbestos-containing materials.
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Cement sheeting
- Electrical parts
- Vehicle brake pads
Identifying asbestos in the home
You may have older asbestos-containing materials that were installed before 1987. You may be unable to tell if a material contains asbestos merely by its appearance. You can perform a careful visual examination or use a microscope.
A conclusive way of confirming the presence of asbestos is to send a sample to a laboratory that performs testing. You can get more information on Identifying asbestos-containing material from the Department of Health website.
DIY Tips on Removing Asbestos
- Put on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as disposable coveralls, safety glasses, or goggles.
- Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in the area, so you do not inhale asbestos dust.
- Avoid the use of power tools.
- Do not try to cut into asbestos cement sheets. In fact, you should handle all asbestos cement and asbestos sheeting with care.
- The water blasting of asbestos cement sheets is illegal.
- Do not drill or cut into asbestos products.
- Create appropriate asbestos awareness in your neighbourhood if you want to perform the removal and disposal of asbestos cement materials.
- Seal off the affected work area with tape and plastic sheets to prevent contamination of other areas.
- Clearly label asbestos materials as asbestos waste.
- Be sure to follow waste disposal procedures and local health and safety laws regarding asbestos removal.
- Avoid skidding sheets over each other when stacking them. This can release fibres.
- Remove all asbestos waste as soon as possible.
- All asbestos waste should be transported in a leak-proof vehicle.
- Reusing or dumping asbestos products or putting them in domestic rubbish bins is illegal.
- Disposal of asbestos waste can only be done at landfill sites that can lawfully receive such waste.
- Inviting a licenced asbestos removal contractor immediately is advisable if hail has damaged your roof or an asbestos cement product.
- Invite a licensed asbestos removal contractor to clean up a fire-damaged property that contains asbestos products.
- Seal all asbestos roofs before removing them to reduce the risk of releasing asbestos fibres.
- Weathered asbestos cement products should be sealed with special sealants. You may seek professional help.
- Begin any unlicensed asbestos removal work by creating an asbestos removal plan.
Considerations When Removing Asbestos Yourself
Removing asbestos can be quite dangerous and complicated. If you are considering removing asbestos yourself, you will do well to refer to the guidelines for legal and safe asbestos waste removal as contained in the following websites and resources:
- Safe Work Australia's Model Codes of Practice: How to Safely Remove Asbestos
- The Department of Health's Asbestos — A Guide for householders and the general public
- Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011
- Reach out to the Work Health and Safety Regulator in your state or territory
- Safety information for removal of non-friable asbestos
You can also consult the relevant body in your state and territory, which can include:
- Asbestos Taskforce ACT
- Asbestos NSW
- Asbestos NT
- Asbestos Queensland
- Asbestos South Australia
- Asbestos Tasmania
- Asbestos Victoria
- Healthy WA – Asbestos
- Asbestos in the workplace – WA
Meanwhile, you can check the asbestos safety and eradication Agency's disposal database. There are asbestos disposal facilities such as the EPA-approved Asbestos Waste disposal facility. If you remove the asbestos yourself, you can look for the closest landfill that Accepts asbestos.
You may explore waste and recycling options as well. You can confirm if your property Contains asbestos and the amount of asbestos. Sources for a free online training course include the Department of Health and The Cancer Council, WA.
FAQs on Asbestos Removal
Am I allowed to remove friable asbestos myself?
Friable asbestos removal must be performed by a Class A Licensed Asbestos removalist. As such, you are not allowed to take care of friable asbestos removal.
What classes of asbestos removal licences exist?
- Class A Licensed Asbestos removalists are allowed to remove friable and non-friable asbestos.
- Class B Licensed Asbestos removalists are permitted only to remove non-friable asbestos.
What to Expect from Qualified Asbestos Removalists
Professionals can assist you in the following areas:
- They can better manage any risk of asbestos exposure that may occur when removing asbestos from your home.
- They have the right equipment to remove asbestos safely.
- Licensed asbestos removalists will also remove and dispose of asbestos in line with local government regulations.
- A licensed asbestos removalist will possess a waste transport certificate and a waste transport permit.
- They can efficiently take the asbestos to a licensed landfill.
- They have completed the necessary training and have the relevant business and industry experience for the job.
- Note: You can visit the WorkSafe website to confirm the licence of the asbestos removalist from the list of approved Worksafe Licence holders.
Contact Licensed Asbestos Removalists
After going through the above answers to the question: can you remove asbestos yourself? You may actually want to do some DIY asbestos removal. However, specific jobs are better left to professionals, and this is one of them.