Asbestos Awareness

Asbestos Awareness Month

Asbestos Awareness month alerts Australians about the dangers of working with asbestos during home renovations and maintenance. With Australia having one of the highest incidences of asbestos related cancers in the world, and with confirmed cases of asbestos related cancers continuing to increase as a result of home maintenance and renovation, exposure to asbestos fibres is considered a major threat to the health of Australians.

EVERY home built or renovated before the mid-1980s is likely to contain asbestos. If left undisturbed asbestos generally does not pose a health risk. However, when disturbed during renovations and home maintenance, asbestos fibres can be released into the air and when inhaled, can cause life-threatening diseases including lung cancer, pleural disease, asbestosis and mesothelioma, an incurable, terminal cancer.

Home renovations, particularly DIY are continuing to increase nationally. With a median gap of 50 years between exposure and diagnosis, and with a large number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of renovating or maintaining homes, the importance of education about the dangerous of asbestos to homeowners cannot be overstated. Working in partnership with the internally recognised Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, Asbestos Awareness Month is the initiative of the Asbestos Education Committee, established to promote education campaigns enabling the Australian public to learn about the dangerous of asbestos and how to  manage it safely, in an around the home, specifically when renovating.

Prior to Asbestos being banned in Australia in 2003, those most affected by asbestos were asbestos miners and their families, (first wave) followed by tradesmen such as builders, plumbers and electricians and their families (second wave) exposed to fibres brought home on worker’s clothing. With scientific studies demonstrating that current asbestos exposure is directly linked to DIY renovations, and with every Australian home built or renovated prior to 1987 likely to contain asbestos, the acknowledged ‘Third Wave’ of victims of asbestos related diseases are homeowners and families exposed during home renovations or maintenance.

In 2011, the Asbestos Education Committee ran their inaugural Asbestos Awareness Week which gained significant state and national media coverage. In 2012, the campaign was expanded to include all Australian states and territories, a community service announcement for radio and television and the world first interactive, experiential asbestos education exhibit, Betty – The ADRI House, a mobile home build to demonstrate where asbestos can be found in the home. In 2013, the campaign was extended from an awareness week to become national Asbestos Awareness Month to emphasise the importance of the messaging and to allow organisations to have maximum opportunity to participate in the campaign.

Removing asbestos material (bonded asbestos under 10 square metres)

Any person who is involved with the removal of not more than 10 square metres of bonded material in the form of ‘fibro’, ‘asbestos sheeting”, asbestos roofing material, or “AC sheeting” must take special care in respect to their own safety precautions and the safety of others. There are specific ways to remove this material and before commencing any of this type of work (even with small areas such as 10 square metres) you should seek expert advice as to the manner in which the work should be performed, the special personal protection equipment that should be utilised, the precautions to be taken to protect the safety of others, the method of storage, transport and disposal. It is strongly advised that a home owner engage the services of a suitably licensed contractor to carry out the asbestos removal work, irrespective of the amount involved

Removing asbestos material (bonded asbestos over 10 square metres)

Work involving bonded asbestos removal work (of an area of more than 10 square metres) or friable asbestos removal work must be undertaken by a person who carries on a business of such removal work in accordance with a licence under Work Health & Safety Regulation 2011.

A signed contract with a licenced person should be obtained prior to the commencement of any work involving asbestos material. Any contract with a licensed person must indicate whether any bonded asbestos material or friable asbestos material will be removed, and if so, must specify the landfill site (that may lawfully receive asbestos) to which the bonded asbestos material or friable asbestos material is to be delivered.

Further information – Work Health&  Safety Regulation 2011) – accessed at  or

Asbestos Material Disposal

Asbestos wastes are any wastes containing asbestos. This waste can be further categorised into two types:

  • Stabilised Asbestos is any waste containing asbestos in a bonded matrix, eg asbestos cement sheeting ("fibro"), bituminous floor tiles / roof sheeting; and
  • Asbestos Fibre and Dust Waste is any waste containing asbestos dust or fibres, eg. brake lining dust, acoustic insulation, thermal insulation (lagging), dust from ventilation collection systems.
    The Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014 contains special requirements relating to the transportation and disposal.

The requirements for the transport of asbestos waste are that bonded asbestos material must be securely packaged at all times; friable asbestos material must be kept in a sealed container; asbestos-contaminated soils must be wetted down; and all asbestos waste must be transported in a covered, leak-proof vehicle.

The requirements for the disposal of asbestos waste are that asbestos waste in any form must be disposed of only at a landfill site (waste depot) that is lawfully licensed to receive that waste; the transporter of asbestos waste must notify the occupier or operator of the waste depot that the load contains asbestos waste; and that the transporter, when unloading and disposing of the asbestos waste, must do so in such a manner as to prevent the generation of dust or the stirring up of dust. The operator of the licensed waste depot has other responsibilities in respect of the covering of the waste.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014 can be accessed at - or

Please click here to view the 20 Point Asbestos Safety Checklist.

Please click here to view Asbestos Flyer in English.

For languages other than English please click on the link below.

Further information