Healthy living

Asbestos removal

Image of a house, zoomed in on the roof.
Asbestos removal is best carried out by licensed professionals to ensure it is done safely.
  • Use a licensed asbestos removalist for any removal work.
  • Asbestos is a cancer and lung disease hazard.
  • Never use power tools to drill, cut, sand or remove materials containing asbestos, as this will release asbestos fibres.
  • Never use a high pressure cleaner to clean asbestos cement roofing or cladding.
  • If you are looking to renovate, you must think asbestos.

Take care when undertaking any work on houses built prior to 1990, as it is likely to have a variety of building materials that contain asbestos.

Identifying and knowing that asbestos is present is important to make sure appropriate safety precautions can be taken to reduce your risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.

Use a licensed asbestos removalist

If you intend to remove a large amount of material, or if in doubt as to its condition hire an experienced, licensed asbestos removalist (external site). You should receive a clearance certificate to confirm the full removal of asbestos containing materials.  Check the area where the asbestos has been removed to make sure it has been left in a clean state, with no dust or debris remaining.

It is strongly recommended that you hire a Class A licensed asbestos removal contractor (external site)when removing any amount of material that is severely damaged and/or is soft or able to be crumbled by hand.

Some products, such as the paper backing on linoleum flooring or textured ceiling coatings in older homes, may contain white asbestos. This backing material can have higher asbestos fibre content than asbestos cement products and the fibres can be more loosely bound and more dangerous.

Read the asbestos removal licensing – frequently asked questions (external site) for more information.

Information on the type of precautions used by licensed asbestos removalists is available in the Code of practice – How to safely remove asbestos | Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (external site).

Removing small amounts of intact asbestos

If you are considering removing a small amount of intact asbestos cement products or undertaking minor maintenance, or renovation on or around asbestos containing products, take the time to find out how to do this safely. Follow the advice from:

Approval to remove asbestos products from your property

Building renovation work (including removal of asbestos from your home or demolition of your home) may require one of the following building permits from your local government authority:

  • building licence
  • demolition licence.

Contact Environmental Health Services at your local government (external site).

Safely removing asbestos and protective gear

Before you begin, it is a good idea to let your neighbours know of the days of removal work, especially if you are working outside. Your neighbours can:

  • close all external doors and windows and stay indoors
  • avoid unnecessary outdoor activity and avoid putting washing on the clothesline
  • after the work is finished, wipe dusty surfaces with a damp cloth and use a low-pressure hose to remove visible dust from pathways.

Be prepared

Before starting you will need to prepare your equipment.

Personal protective clothing:

  • Class P2 disposable face respirator / mask
  • disposable coveralls (Type 3)
  • gumboots / old shoes without laces that can be easily wiped down or disposable shoe covers that go over footwear
  • eye protection
  • strong disposable gloves (e.g nitrile work gloves)


  • heavy-duty (0.2 mm thick) plastic bags or plastic wrap
  • disposable plastic drop sheets (to cover items)
  • strong duct tape
  • spray bottle or sponge
  • wet wipes / old rags
  • bucket (for water)
  • marker pen / label / signs / tape that reads “DANGER ASBESTOS WASTE”

Restrict access

  • Prevent other people and pets from entering the area where the asbestos is being removed.
  • Use a sign, barrier tape, fence or any method to prevent people from entering the area.
  • When indoors isolate the area you are working on from other rooms.
  • Don’t walk or spread dust or debris into other unprotected rooms or areas.


  • remove all movable items, furniture and fittings out of the removal area
  • cover items that cannot be removed with disposable covers / drop sheets
  • turn off heating/air conditioning systems or fans

Gear up - wear personal protective clothing

Wear personal protective clothing that has Australia Standards approval including:

  • Class P2 disposable face respirator / mask
  • disposable coveralls (Type 3)
  • closed footwear, preferably boots with no laces
  • disposable covers that go over footwear
  • eye protection
  • disposable (e.g. nitrile) gloves

The aim is to prevent you from breathing in any potential fibres. That is why it is important to dispose of clothing afterwards to make sure no fibres remain on you or your clothes.

Wet it

It is important not to spread dust or debris

  • Prior to removing the material, gently use a spray mist (using a hose with spray mist attachment or spray bottle) or use a poly vinyl acetate (PVA) solution (1:10 mix with water).
  • Never use a high-pressure hose or pressure washer on asbestos.

Remove and bag or wrap it

Removing broken pieces or fragments

  • Carefully pick up and place small pieces of asbestos cement in either heavy-duty polyethylene / plastic bags or plastic wrap that is at least 0.2 mm thick (available from hardware stores)
  • Bags should be filled to no more than 50 per cent
  • Seal bags by tightly twisting the bag opening, fold over and seal with strong duct tape.
  • Place the bag containing asbestos inside another heavy-duty bag, so it is double-bagged and tape again. If using plastic wrapping, double wrap and tape with strong duct tape.

Removing fencing panels or other sheets

  • For fencing, dig a trench around each side of the fence and remove the entire sheet. Remove the fence panel with minimal breakage to minimise fibre release:
    • do not use excess force
    • do not break the fence at the base. If it does break at the base, make sure you dig a trench next to the fence deep down enough to be able to remove the entire sheet
    • use hand operated tools, not power operated tools
  • Limit number of asbestos sheets per bundle for easy lifting and handling– lay removed sheets straight onto plastic wrapping. Wrap only the amount of asbestos that you, and anyone helping you, can easily carry.
  • Avoid breaking or sliding the sheets together.
  • Double wrap the sheets in heavy duty plastic at least 0.2 mm thick and seal with strong duct tape.

Label it

  • Label bagged or wrapped waste with a sign that says, 'DANGER ASBESTOS WASTE'.

Clean up

  • Clean up before leaving the removal area
  • You will need extra wrap, or a bag, to throw away any cleaning-up materials, disposable protective clothing and any protective drop sheets.
  • Clean up any dust or debris using wet wipes or wetted old rags that can be disposed of in the asbestos waste bag.
  • If you use a mop, make sure the mop head is removable and can be disposed of as asbestos waste. Clean handle with wet wipes.

Do not use an ordinary household vacuum cleaner to clean up dust. A Class H vacuum cleaner can be hired that is sealed and filtered using a HEPA filter to make sure it can be used for vacuuming hazardous particles.

Gear off

After everything is cleaned, remove all disposal personal protective clothing and wrap/bag it as asbestos waste.

  • Keep your face respirator/mask on while you remove your gear.
  • Remove gloves, eyewear, and coveralls first and throw away into an asbestos waste bag.
  • Remove any shoe covers and/or clean shoes with disposable wet wipes or rags.
  • Remove your face respirator last and throw it out with asbestos waste.
  • Wrap all personal protective equipment waste as asbestos waste, tape and label.
  • Wash hands and face thoroughly.
Where to dispose asbestos waste

All asbestos material must be disposed at a landfill or waste disposal site licensed by the Department of Water and Environment Regulation (DWER) to accept asbestos materials. For more information about controlled waste visit the DWER website (external site).

More information

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Questions? Ask your local government environmental health services