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Asbestos

What is Asbestos?

Under Public Health Regulation 2005, Asbestos means the asbestiform varieties of mineral silicates belonging to the serpentine or amphibole groups of rock-forming minerals, including the following;

  • actinolite asbestos
  • grunerite (or amosite) (brown) asbestos
  • anthophyllite asbestos
  • chrysotile (white)
  • crocidolite (blue)
  • a mixture containing one or more of the above mentioned minerals

What are types of Asbestos?

There are two types of asbestos containing material (ACM): friable (loosley bound) ACM (ie. insulation, sound or heat proofing material) or bonded ACM (ie, fibro sheeting)

Bonded ACM means ACM, other than friable ACM, that contains a bonding compound reinforced with asbestos fibres. E.g. asbestos cement pipes, flat or corrugated asbestos cement sheets consisting of sand and cement reinforced with asbestos fibres.

Friable ACM means ACM that, when dry, can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure.

Products containing Asbestos

Asbestos is a versatile product that was used in a wide variety of applications due to its flexibility, strength, heat and electrical insulation properties, and its chemical inertness.

As a result, asbestos products are widespread throughout the community. Some of its applications around the home are:

  • Roof sheeting and capping
  • Fencing
  • Lining under vinyl sheet flooring
  • Wall sheeting
  • Eave sheeting
  • Carpet and tile underlays
  • Switchboard backing boards
  • Cladding

Other applications include telecommunications pits, car parts, fire proofing and blankets, filters.

Australia was one of the highest users in the world until the mid-1980's when asbestos began to be gradually phased out. A total ban on the use, import and storage of all forms of asbestos came into effect in December 2003.

Your House

If your house was built before the mid-1980's it is likely that it has asbestos-containing products.

If your house was built between the mid-1980's and 1990 it is likely that it has asbestos-containing products. 

If your home was built after 1990 it is less likely that it has asbestos-containing products, however any house constructed prior to the implementation of the total ban in December 2003 may have asbestos-containing products. 

Asbestos products are safe as long as they are not deteriorated, disturbed or broken. 

What are the Health Effects?

Exposure to asbestos can cause:

  • Asbestosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • The presence of pleural plaques or pleural thickening in the membrane lining the lungs

    What requirements apply in relation to Non-workplace Areas?
    • A person must not remove friable ACM unless the person holds a class A asbestos removal licence under the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 authorising the removal. Maximum penalty—100 penalty units.
    • A person must not remove a quantity of bonded ACM of more than 10m2 unless the person holds a certificate under this section that is in effect and obtained under arrangements approved or established by the chief executive. Maximum penalty—100 penalty units.
    • A person must not use a power tool, or a device attached to a power tool, to cut or clean ACM, or a high pressure water process to clean ACM or compressed air to clean ACM or a surface where ACM is present. Maximum penalty—100 penalty units.
    • The person must ensure a broken surface of the bonded ACM that is not being removed from the non-workplace area is sealed. Maximum penalty—100 penalty units.
    • A person who carries out prescribed work must take reasonable measures to minimise— (a) the risk of asbestos fibres being released; and (b) the associated hazard to the health of the person or any other person. Maximum penalty—100 penalty units.
    • A person who carries out prescribed work must take reasonable measures to minimise— (a) the risk of asbestos fibres being released; and (b) the associated hazard to the health of the person or any other person.Maximum penalty—100 penalty units.
    • A person who carries out prescribed work must ensure all associated asbestos waste is packaged and disposed of as soon as practicable in the way(double wrapped/bagged in a at least 0.2mm thick  plastic, adhesive tape sealed and labelled). Maximum penalty—100 penalty units.
    • A person must not sell or give away ACM stored at a non-workplace area. Maximum penalty—100 penalty units.
    What is Council's Role?

    The Public Health Act 2005 governs asbestos risks. Council deals with domestic asbestos issues involving less than ten (10) square meters. Other asbestos removal such as large quantities or professional building sites are to be referred to Queensland Health (07) 3234 0111 or Workplace Health and Safety 1300 362 128 respectively.


    General Asbestos Information

    For more information on Asbestos and its health impacts, visit the following sites:

    Information for Home Renovators

    For more information on asbestos for home renovators please visit the Queensland Government website

    How to report an Asbestos concern?

    To log a request or for further information about this topic please contact Environmental Services on 4776 4607 or email hschealth@hinchinbrook.qld.gov.au.

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