What To Do When You Discover Asbestos In Your Building

Dangerous asbestos roof - Medical studies have shown that the asbestos particles can cause cancer - toned image

Before 1985, dangerous asbestos fibres were often used in a range of Australian construction materials. In those days, the naturally occurring mineral fibre – with its versatility, tensile strength, and insulating qualities – was thought to be God’s gift to the construction industry.

We now know that exposure to asbestos can be detrimental to your health. If you suspect that a building where you live, work or frequent contains asbestos, immediate action is required.

Step One: Evacuate

Exposure to asbestos poses significant potential health risks and can be life-threatening. If you are concerned that you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor. If you suspect that the material is present in your home or building, and you are not qualified to work with it, your immediate priority should be to secure the site and evacuate. You should then call in the professionals and have the site surveyed. They will test for Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) and advise how to proceed.

Keep out sign Asbestor

Step Two: Identify & Assess

If you have reason to believe that ACMs are present in your building, contract an accredited Building Consultant to conduct an Asbestos Identification Inspection. In some cases, the presence of asbestos can be presumed prima facie but ordinarily, the inspector will take samples for analysis, to ascertain the presence of ACMs. Once the samples have been tested, an Asbestos Register (of both the analysed and ‘presumed’ ACMs) is compiled. This must be displayed prominently on the property to give clear warning to occupants, visitors and tradesmen where any asbestos is located.

Danger-warning-for-Asbestos

Step Three: Remove

Removing asbestos is a dangerous task that should be carried out by licensed professionals. DIY asbestos removal is not recommended but, if you decide to tackle the asbestos yourself, first consult the official code of practice for asbestos removal, authorised by Work Safe Australia.

In older homes, three types of asbestos are commonly found: cladding, fencing and roofing. Many ACMs are bonded or encapsulated and, in this state, are not hazardous. But problems occur when the ACMs are demolished, drilled, cut, moved or otherwise disrupted, releasing the toxic asbestos fibres into the atmosphere. When removing asbestos, use tools and techniques that are least likely to disrupt the asbestos fibres.

Protective clothing is an imperative for asbestos removal. Porous materials, like shoelaces and fabric, should be avoided because they absorb the asbestos fibres and transport them beyond the worksite. Recommended safety gear includes:

  • Respirator
  • Asbestos-proof coveralls
  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Steel-capped gumboots

Bauer Elementary

Step Four: Disposal

Once the Asbestos has been removed from your home or building, you are left with the question of disposal. Where large quantities of asbestos must be disposed of, a skip bin may be your best option. Not all skip bin companies accept ACMs so discuss this upfront when enquiring.

If you prefer to dispose of the ACMs at a tip or waste disposal site, ensure that your chosen facility accepts asbestos. To find an asbestos disposal facility near you, search the National Waste Management Database.

Every site will have a list of strict rules around asbestos disposal. In most cases, the ACMs must be double-wrapped in black plastic, and packages must be thoroughly sealed with tape and labelled ‘ASBESTOS’.

Asbestos detection, removal and disposal are time-consuming and costly, but essential. This once-popular building material has left behind a deadly legacy that must be dealt with swiftly and cautiously, in all cases.

Have you had a brush with asbestos in your home or workplace? Share your insights and experiences in the comments section below.

Author Bio:

Jerry Tyrrell has over 40 years of experience in the building, architectural, timber pest inspections and asbestos testing & identification and founded Tyrrells Property Inspections more than 30 years ago. Since then Jerry has supervised the inspection of, or directly inspected, almost 80,000 buildings. He has hands-on experience in most building trades, and has designed, built, supervised and project managed building projects from $5,000 to $8m.

Should I Use”Lawn Repair” Seed on my Lawn Grass

Do you have some dead patches in your lawn?

Have you been tempted to purchase “lawn repair” products from your local gardening or hardware store?

I’ve bought some of them, and regretted it for years after …

Box of Hortico Lawn RepairChoosing the right product to repair the dead or struggling patches of grass in you lawn is not as easy as buying the cheapest or prettiest product on the Bunnings shelf. I had to learn this the hard way, and spent many hours on my hands and knees trying to fix my repair

A lot of those lawn repair products include a blend of four or more different types of grass seed to encourage rapid growth of the replacement grass. While this does speed up the regrowth, chances are pretty good that at least three of the four types of grasses will not match your existing lawn.

After failed attempts at using different lawn repair seed on our lawn I was stuck using species specific herbicide to kill of two of the four types of grass, and many hours trying to pull out the third type of grass. I have also over-sown the lawn with seed that matches our existing lawn grass.

Despite still having some dead patches, we are slowly making progress with greening up our front lawn…

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How to Repair a Compacted Clay Soil Lawn

How to Repair a Compacted Clay Soil Lawn

Best time to do it in Adelaide is in November or in Autumn (March – May)

  • Core the Lawn
  • Mow over the soil and turf with the catcher attached to clear off the lawn surface
  • Add Gypsum or other Clay Breaker
  • Add a Wetting Agent
  • Quality Lawn Top Dress Compost / Soil
  • Quality Lawn Fertiliser
  • Grass Seed

Source: Heyne’s Garden Centre – Seasonal Lawn Maintenance

Preparing Raw Pine for Staining to Stop Raised Grain

One of the drawbacks of using a water based stain on raw pine is that it can raise the grain on the wood. Raised wood grain wasn’t really a problem with oil based stains, but it is one of the only disadvantages that you will find using a water based stain.

An easy, and zero cost, option to stop the grain on the wood from raising too after staining is to apply a light coat of water to the timber prior to the final sanding.

This video shows you how to do it …

We are currently working on a timber arrow for our youngest son’s bedroom that we want to stain. The idea behind using a water based stain is that it should be lower odour and have lower VOC.

By using a very light application of water to the timber prior to the final sanding and stain should give us a much smoother, and more “professional” finish to the final project.

Staining the Timber

Photo via Russell Wisniewski

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