It’s national Asbestos Awareness Week and a good time to remind Byron Shire residents 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.
Absestos materials left undisturbed pose a very low health risk to people – it’s only when they are released and inhaled that they can cause a range of serious illnesses.
Kate Akkerman, 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.
Byron Shire Council offers free asbestos testing kits which 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 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 (www.epa.nsw.gov.au).
National Absestos Awareness Week runs from 25 November – 1 December.
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