Leading on lead and asbestos safety
Both these contaminants may be found in and around your home but there are many practical ways to stay safe. The EPA works with industry and communities to manage potential risks of exposure to lead and asbestos.
Port Kembla residents were reminded of lead safety following a recent report
Read about some of the important work we’re doing to help keep our community and the environment safe from harm.
EPA reminds Wollongong residents to stay safe around lead
Wollongong residents were reminded this month to be aware of the risks of exposure to lead and other heavy metal contaminants around the home, especially when renovating and gardening.
The safety message followed the publication of a comprehensive report examining legacy heavy metal contamination issues (in particular, lead) in the Wollongong Local Government area.
The Literature review looked at the levels of lead and other heavy metals in soil and roof dust in Wollongong, and measures to manage associated health risks. It examined legacy contamination issues and recommended further testing, particularly of soil in the Port Kembla area, to provide more site-specific data.
“In response to the recommendations of the report, the EPA is offering voluntary soil testing for interested members of the community,” EPA Manager Regulatory Operations Peter Bloem said.
“Lead and heavy metals may be found in and around your home and can be hazardous to health but there are simple steps that can be taken to prevent or minimise exposure,” Peter said.
“These include using a simple lead paint test kit, wearing proper protective equipment when renovating or gloves when gardening, having good grass cover in your yard to stop dust and creating a raised garden bed with new soil.”
The EPA shared lead information factsheets with residents and, once the COVID situation allows, will host a community drop-in session to speak with residents about the report and answer any questions.
Managing lead in the Captains Flat community
EPA Technical Officer demonstrates lead sampling equipment for Captains Flat resident
The EPA is a key agency in a NSW Government Taskforce committed to keeping the small community of Captains Flat near Queanbeyan informed about work being carried out for lead management on public land. Captains Flat sits beside the historic Lake George Mine site.
The EPA’s Environmental Health team tested soil for lead contamination on both public land and private properties earlier this year and continues to support this sampling. We also held some drop-in sessions and provided fact sheets with tips for living safely with lead.
The Taskforce which is co-ordinated by the Department of Regional NSW hosted three online information sessions for the community in July to provide an update on further sampling work being carried out by environmental contractor Ramboll, and next steps.
Find out more:
New asbestos cover for landfill operators
Managing asbestos waste safely is an important priority for NSW. The NSW Government is committed to protecting people from poor asbestos waste management practices. In November 2019, the Environment Minister released the NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy which contained several new approaches aimed at improving how asbestos waste is managed.
A key action in the Strategy was to trial alternative options for covering asbestos at landfills, in consultation with SafeWork NSW. These trials have now been completed and landfill operators now have the option to cover asbestos with household waste.
Landfill operators that are licensed to accept asbestos can apply to the EPA for a licence variation to request the use of an alternative landfill cover for asbestos waste. Similarly, lawful landfills outside of the regulated area may ask for written approval to use an alternative cover for asbestos.
To discuss an application, contact the EPA’s Environment Line on 131 555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asbestos safety for clean-ups post fires and floods
The EPA secures and assesses damaged sites for potential asbestos risk and safety
Asbestos is not a risk if left undisturbed as only asbestos fibres that are breathed in pose a risk to health. However, building renovations or clean-up following damage to properties from bushfires, storms or floods requires special attention to the handling and disposal of material containing asbestos.
What to do
- If you encounter material that you suspect may be hazardous please avoid it and call Environment Line on 131 555 or email@example.com.
- Before you start a clean up use the Asbestos Checker or if possible, have a licensed asbestos assessor inspect your property to find out if you have any asbestos materials in the home.
- Using a licensed asbestos removalist is the best way to remove asbestos, but this may not be possible following a flood or storm.
- A licensed asbestos removalist knows how to safely remove and dispose of asbestos, then decontaminate your property to minimise health risks.