In general, the presence of asbestos in residential and non-residential buildings does not pose a risk to health if it is in a bonded form and in good condition.
However, once a material containing asbestos is broken, starts to deteriorate, or is disturbed in such a way that dust particles containing asbestos are produced, the potential for exposure to asbestos fibres is increased. Therefore, while your house or a non-residential building may have been constructed using many different materials containing asbestos, provided the materials are not disturbed and are in good condition, they should not create concern. In fact, in some situations it may be safer to maintain these materials rather than attempt to remove them.
This generally occurs when people are unaware of the hazards of working with asbestos and do not take appropriate precautions. Repairs and renovations that involve removing, breaking, cleaning, cutting, drilling, filing, grinding, sanding or smashing materials that contain asbestos can potentially release very fine and dangerous asbestos fibres into the air where they can be easily inhaled. The use of high pressure water blasters to clean materials containing asbestos prior to painting can also release asbestos fibres. Even something as minor as putting up a new towel rail in the bathroom can release asbestos fibres in the air where they can be inhaled. Therefore when working with asbestos, it is important to always take proper precaution to minimise the risk to yourself and to others of exposure to asbestos. This includes minimising the number of people present, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and warning signs, avoiding the release of dust or small particles from materials containing asbestos and restricting access to worksites.
Even if you are not planning on carrying out any renovations, it is recommended that you still be aware of the potential risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.
In general, the presence of asbestos in residential and non-residential buildings does not pose a risk to health if the material containing asbestos is in good condition. However, as a building begins to age; becomes weathered; or is damaged, whether it is deliberate, unintentional or caused by nature (e.g. damage caused by hail, storm or a fire), the potential for exposure to asbestos fibres is increased.
Click here for information on how to safely work with asbestos.
Click here for information on how to safely remove asbestos.
Click here for information on how to safely dispose of asbestos.