Asbestos was commonly used in many building materials between the 1940’s and late 1980’s because of its durability, fire resistance and insulating properties. Asbestos cement products may be present in any buildings which were constructed up until the late 1980s, in materials such as:
- cement sheeting
- cement roofing
- vinyl floor tiles
- wall lining.
The presence of asbestos is very difficult to determine with the naked eye. Generally the presence of asbestos in home building materials does not pose a risk to health unless the material is broken, deteriorating, or disturbed in such a way that dust containing asbestos fibers is produced.
We are all exposed to low levels of asbestos in the air we breathe every day. Ambient or background air usually contains between 10 and 200 fibres every 1,000 litres (or cubic metre) of air. Whether a person goes on to develop an asbestos-related disease depends on a range of circumstances or exposure factors; for example, the level and duration of exposure, length of time since first exposure, the fibre type, and concurrent exposure to tobacco smoke and other carcinogens.
Friable asbestos products are generally quite loose and, when dry, can be crumbled into fine material or dust with very light pressure, such as crushing with your hand. These products usually contain high levels of asbestos (up to 100% in some cases), which is loosely held in the product so that the asbestos fibres are easily released into the air.
Friable asbestos products have been commonly used in commercial and industrial settings since the late 1800’s for fireproofing, soundproofing and insulation. Some friable products were also used in houses and may still be found in houses built before 1990.
Examples of friable asbestos-containing material include:
- pipe lagging
- boiler insulation
- fire retardant material on steel work
- sprayed insulation.
Bonded asbestos products are made from a bonding compound (such as cement) mixed with a small proportion (usually less than 15%) of asbestos. Bonded asbestos products are solid, rigid and non-friable, and cannot be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure. The asbestos fibres are tightly bound in the product and are not normally released into the air.
Common names for bonded asbestos products are “fibro”, asbestos cement and AC sheeting.
When they’re in good condition, bonded asbestos products do not normally release any asbestos fibres into the air. They are considered very low risk for people who are in contact with them, as long as appropriate safety precautions are used when they are disturbed.
Example of non-friable asbestos containing material may include:
- asbestos cement sheet
- asbestos cement moulded products
- bitumen-based water proofing
- vinyl floor tiles.
Download the Asbestos – A guide for householders and the general public(PDF, 5MB) for more information.
A householder may legally remove small amounts of asbestos from their own property.
For up to date information about safely removing asbestos, or to find a licensed asbestos removalist, please visit the Asbestos Victoria website.
Rye Landfill & Resource Recovery Centre will accept up to half a cubic metre of asbestos. It must be:
- double wrapped in 200 micron (0.2 mm) builders plastic,
- sealed and labelled.
Visit the Asbestos Victoria website for information about packaging and labelling asbestos or call the Rye Landfill & Resource Recovery Centre on 1300 850 600 or 03 5950 1000 or visit them at 280 Truemans Road in Rye.
We recommend that you contact the property manager at your real estate agency to discuss the issue.
The following websites offer information on the safe handling and disposal of materials containing asbestos: