New campaign warns of asbestos lurking in homes

A new campaign is warning NSW residents to be vigilant when renovating or building because asbestos lurks in more places than you’d think, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) announced today ahead of Asbestos Awareness Week (November 25 – December 1).

1970s style bathroomOver 3,000 products containing asbestos were used in Australian homes and workplaces before asbestos was banned in 2003.

EPA Acting Executive Director Hazardous Incidents and Environmental Health, Arminda Ryan said “The EPA is urging do-it-yourself renovators and tradies to be extra vigilant and be aware that asbestos can lurk in more places than you think. You can’t always tell what products contain asbestos just by looking at them. It can be hard to tell the difference between products with and without asbestos as some companies manufactured identical-looking products after the asbestos ban.” 

Everyday products that could contain asbestos include:

  • roofs, eaves, downpipes and insulation
  • interior walls (often with a non-asbestos covering on the outside)
  • kitchen splashbacks
  • under lino, some carpets and tiles (and the cement compounds used to fix tiles)
  • lagging around pipes, inside fuse boxes or as part of ventilation shafts
  • fences, garden sheds and small outdoor constructions like chicken coops
  • as part of bonded cement compounds that make up walls, which can be disturbed when sanded in preparation for painting.

 “The EPA encourages DIYers to find out where asbestos can be found. It is best to be vigilant, take precautions and seek the help of experts. An asbestos check from a licensed asbestos assessor can advise where asbestos might be in your home and how to safely and legally dispose of it to protect your family, neighbours and community” she said.

Workers in the building, construction and vehicle trades, as well as plumbers and electricians and DIY renovators of older homes, are especially at risk of encountering asbestos.

Left undisturbed, asbestos material in a stable condition poses a low health risk. When released and inhaled asbestos fibres can cause a range of deadly diseases, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. It is estimated over 4,000 Australians are dying from asbestos-related diseases each year.

The Asbestos Finder on the asbestos.nsw.gov.au website, launched to coincide with National Asbestos Awareness Week, allows users to search for products that may contain asbestos or by locations where asbestos may be found. 

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) coordinates the NSW Government’s response to asbestos. As part of this, the EPA is leading the Asbestos lurks in more places than you’d think campaign in NSW during National Asbestos Awareness Week. SafeWork NSW, iCare and councils are also taking part to highlight the dangers of asbestos and warn Australians to be vigilant.

National Asbestos Awareness Week runs from November 25 until December 1. For more information, including steps to take if you find asbestos, visit the asbestos.nsw.gov.au website.