Asbestos is a type of building material used in the building industry between the 1940s and late 1980s.
Before the health risks were known, asbestos products were widely used because they were durable, fire resistant and had good insulation properties.
Only a licensed contractor should remove or break materials that could possibly contain asbestos fibres.
Types of asbestos
There are two types of asbestos.
Bonded asbestos is any product where the asbestos is bonded with cement or a resin binder to make it more stable.
Health risks associated with undisturbed bonded asbestos are very low. The concern is when bonded asbestos is removed or handled.
Fibrous asbestos is any product that contains asbestos in a dusty or fibrous form, where it can be crumbled to a powder.
This product is dangerous and should only be handled by a licensed asbestos contractor approved for this task.
How to identify asbestos
It is difficult to identify asbestos by sight, but as a rule, if your house was built:
- before the mid-1980s it is more than likely to contain asbestos materials
- between the mid-1980s and 1990, it is likely to contain asbestos materials
- after the 1990s it is highly unlikely to contain asbestos materials.
Products that may contain asbestos
Products that may contain asbestos
- Carpet underlay (felt, hessian)
- Ceiling tiles
- Fireproofing around flues and ducts
- Fire-rated safety doors (older style)
- Floor tiles (vinyl and thermoplastic) and backing to vinyl flooring
- Gutters, rainwater pipes, and water tanks
- Insulation around pipes and electrical equipment
- Roofing material - flat, corrugated, or bitumen
- Wall sheeting (internal and external) and textured coatings
If left untouched, asbestos poses no immediate danger. Asbestos products that are mishandled, broken or disturbed through activities such as pressure cleaning and cutting, or sanding with power tools, can release hazardous fibres.
Inhaled asbestos fibres can lodge in the airways, lungs or stomach and increase the chances of developing asbestosis, (scarring of lung tissue) mesothelioma or lung cancer. The risk of contracting these diseases increases with the number of fibres inhaled and the length of time you inhale them. You should always take extreme care when dealing with any asbestos product.
Don't endanger yourself, your family or neighbours by trying to:
- remove asbestos yourself, or;
- demolish structures containing asbestos.
If you are renovating your home and suspect it contains asbestos, contact a certified asbestos contractor.
Asbestos removal contractors can also provide a specially-lined bin for tradespeople to use during renovations. Once renovations are completed, the contractors will collect the bin and safely dispose of asbestos waste.
Only licensed asbestos contractors can dispose of asbestos at Council's waste facilities.
Complaints about asbestos handling
If you believe a homeowner, occupant or owner-builder is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos material or a person has illegally dumped asbestos waste, contact Council.
If you believe a business, contractor or an occupant at a commercial premises is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos materials, phone the Queensland Department of Justice and the Attorney-General (Workplace Health and Safety Queensland) on 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
The Queensland Government Asbestos website provides more information about:
- asbestos health risks
- safe handling and disposal of asbestos.