Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring rock minerals that have been shown to be harmful to human health. The fibres are strong, heat resistant and have natural insulating properties. Asbestos was used extensively in building products in Australia. All use, import or manufacture of asbestos was banned completely in Australia by 2003.
If your home was built or renovated in the years leading up to 1987, it most likely contains asbestos. Asbestos material should not pose a health risk if it is left undisturbed and intact. The risk arises if fibres become airborne after it has been disturbed.
The Asbestos Education Committee (AEC), in partnership with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities, delivers the National Asbestos Awareness Month Campaign to educate homeowners, renovators and tradespeople about the dangers of asbestos and how to manage it safely.
The AEC have produced a range of resources, including videos, fact sheets, checklists and Australia's only online Asbestos Product Database. These are available at www.asbestosawareness.com.au, along with specific resources for tradespeople that enable simple visual inspections of properties to identify potential risks and ensure that asbestos is managed safely and in accordance with regulations.
The asbestos guide for householders and the general public produced by the Victorian Department of Health is another useful resource to read before commencing any kind of removal or renovation work at your home, if you are unsure whether asbestos is present. This guide recommends that you consult with a suitably qualified person to help manage the risks of asbestos if you are unsure of your responsibilities.
When asbestos removal work is completed on your behalf, a licensed removalist must be engaged (for certain quantities). Refer to the WorkSafe Victoria website for information about licensed removalists.
For further information about asbestos, please contact Council's Environmental Health Officer or visit the Victorian Government's asbestos website.