23 November 2020

Asbestos legacy still lurks in WA homes

With home renovations on the increase, Western Australians are being urged to take precautions when renovating older homes with potential hidden asbestos.

WA Health’s Environmental Health Executive Director Dr Michael Lindsay said Asbestos Awareness Week (23-29 November) was a timely reminder that asbestos containing material was still found in many older homes across Perth and regional WA towns.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have embraced DIY – using the extra time at home to do renovations and maintenance,” he said.

“But home renovators need to be very aware of where asbestos might be lurking around their home.

“If your house was built or renovated before 1990, there is a good chance it contains asbestos – including in easily overlooked spots like asbestos insulation in the roof space, around hot water pipes, and in the fuse-box.”

Asbestos fibres are hazardous to human health and breathing large amounts of fibres over a long period of time increases the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

“We encourage DIYers to do a thorough asbestos check before starting their home improvements, said Dr Lindsay.

“Consider getting an asbestos assessor to check for asbestos before you start your renovations to protect yourself and your family.”

WA Health is also reminding homeowners never to use power tools or pressure cleaners to repair or clean any materials suspected of containing asbestos. This can generate large numbers of free, respirable (breathable) asbestos fibres that can contaminate both your property and properties nearby.

Asbestos contamination from renovations can lead to significant clean-up costs, which may not be covered by your household insurance.

Asbestos can be removed or tested by a qualified WorkSafe-licenced asbestos removalist (external site).

Check your local government’s website for information about how and where to dispose of asbestos cement products locally. Asbestos cement products are a controlled waste and must be wrapped, transported and disposed of in an approved manner.

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