Removing asbestos safely is important for your health, and the health of the community. This page provides information about the safe handling and disposal of asbestos and how you can report an asbestos problem.
Seek advice from the City's Environmental Health team before attempting to remove asbestos-containing products in your home.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been extensively mined and processed for many commercial uses throughout the world. The three main types of asbestos that have been mined in Australia include:
White asbestos (chrysotile)
Blue asbestos (crocidolite)
Brown asbestos (amosite)
Asbestos was included in many common products used in homes built before 1990. Products containing asbestos can become a public health risk if they are damaged or deteriorate in a way that releases the asbestos fibres. It is important these products can be identified in the home so that appropriate precautions can be taken to reduce exposure risks.
What was it used for?
Asbestos was commonly used in building materials because it was durable, fire resistant and a good insulator. The use of asbestos in building products stopped in 1987; before this asbestos was used in a wide range of building materials including:
- Roofing, shingles and sidings
- Water pipes
- Insulation used on hot water pipes, domestic heaters and stoves
- Exterior wall cladding
What harm can it cause?
Undisturbed and sealed asbestos building materials are not a health risk as the fibres are held together in solid cement. Asbestos fibres can only be released into the air if the material is damaged or disturbed.
Asbestos fibres are small enough to float in the air. They may be too small to see but can be inhaled. The risk of developing asbestos-related disease (such as asbestosis, pleural plaque, lung cancer and mesothelioma) from inhaling in the fibres generally depends on the total number of fibres that have been inhaled.
How do you identify asbestos?
Building materials containing asbestos are difficult to identify. It might be necessary to send a sample of the material to an accredited lab for analysis.
If you are renovating a building and unsure if the materials contain asbestos it is recommended to treat the building material as though it does contain asbestos.
Seek advice from the City’s Environmental Health Team before attempting to remove asbestos-containing products in your home.
Visit the Department of Health website for detailed information about asbestos containing material and its removal.
Read the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992 for the rules and compliance requirements applying to anyone handling and disposing of asbestos. Businesses contracted to remove more than 10 square metres of asbestos must hold a valid Asbestos Removal Licence.
Use the Report It platform to report an asbestos issue to the City, or contact the Environmental Health section on 9186 8555 for guidance.