About asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral that was commonly used as a building material due to its structural advantages. Its use was phased out in building products through the 1980s and completely banned in 2003 due to its link to disease.

Some structures and much of the housing stock within the Shire was built during a time where asbestos was readily available and commonly used.

Important note: If you are buying a pre-1990 house, it is advised you ask that asbestos containing products be assessed as part of the building inspection report.

Structures containing asbestos are aged and reaching the end of their useful life, complete removal is preferred over maintenance and repair.

Asbestos health risks

In most cases, the risk of developing disease from exposure to asbestos products while in the community is very low. Health effects normally only result from extended exposures through work activities. Asbestos-related diseases are increasingly occurring among building maintenance workers such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers, and also members of the public undertaking home renovations personally.

For further information about asbestos disease risk refer to the Department of Health website.

Asbestos removal

Important note: Removal of over 10 square metres of asbestos must be done by a licensed and trained individual or business.

It is safe for residents to undertake light removal and disposal work so long as proper precautions are followed.

Where asbestos removal proves difficult or risky, it is highly recommended that you contact a professional with an appropriate licence. 

If you decide to remove asbestos from your home yourself it is important that you comply with the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992.

Safe asbestos removal

  • Wet everything down to reduce the number of airborne fibres
  • Use manual tools or tools with dust suppression and extraction capabilities
  • Use vacuum equipment designed to extract asbestos fibres or sweep up any dust residues after thoroughly wetting down
  • Wear protective equipment including a respirator (P1 or P2 type), disposable coveralls, safety glasses and disposable gloves
  • Inform neighbouring properties on the scope of the works.

Unsafe asbestos removal – what to avoid

  • Use of high-pressure water hoses or compressed air to clean asbestos sheets
  • Breaking or damaging asbestos materials
  • Using power tools on asbestos materials.

Asbestos disposal

All asbestos cement products can be removed safely without causing a risk to the public or workers, provided safe work procedures are followed.

When preparing asbestos for disposal:

  1. Separate asbestos-containing products from other material for disposal
  2. Wrap or contain asbestos-containing products with heavy duty plastic so that fibres are not released when being transported
  3. Label or mark the package with the words 'CAUTION ASBESTOS' (or similar) in letters no less than 50 millimetres high
  4. Dispose of the material at a site licensed to accept asbestos waste, ensure you inform the facility before delivery.

The closest facility that can accept asbestos waste is Red Hill Waste Management Facility. Ensure you contact the waste facility prior to visit.

Asbestos soil contamination

Soil contamination of asbestos has become a growing issue throughout Western Australia as a result of inappropriate removal, structural degradation, legacy dumping or the use of contaminated soil.

The presence of undisturbed asbestos material in soil does not directly translate to an increased risk to health. Remediation of the soil contamination should have an appropriate consideration to air borne fibres.

Low-risk soil remediation

Where the asbestos cement material is sitting on the soil surface as pieces or sheets and not crumbling, it is safe and acceptable for individuals to hand pick the material in line with the measures previously described.

Reporting asbestos soil contamination

In circumstances where there is a significant amount of buried asbestos, contact the Shire’s Health Services if there is a significant amount of material that:

  • Is or may become buried
  • May become further damaged.

In more complicated cases the site may need to be reported to Department of Water and Environment Regulation under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003.

More information and contacts

For more information about asbestos, please contact the Shire’s Health Services on 9290 6742 or email shire@mundaring.wa.gov.au.