Dealing with household asbestos

In its bonded form, asbestos containing materials are considered relatively stable. However, they can pose a potential health risk where they are damaged, weathered or disturbed. Proper maintenance, handling and disposal of asbestos waste is critical to avoid any potential risks. This page explains what to do when you find asbestos.

There are two types of asbestos

  • friable asbestos material means any material that contains asbestos and is in the form of a powder or can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry
  • bonded asbestos material (non-friable asbestos material) means any material, other than friable asbestos material, that contains asbestos

What to do if you find asbestos

If your house was built before 1987, it’s likely to contain asbestos. Asbestos materials in and around the home are often best left alone if they are in good condition and unlikely to get damaged.

If you are thinking about renovating or doing home maintenance, read the Homeowners and Tenants Fact Sheet (PDF, 345KB) before you start.

To remove any friable asbestos, or more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos from your home, the asbestos removal contractor that you engage must be licensed.

Visit www.asbestos.nsw.gov.au for more information. 

Finding fibro in soil at home

Safework NSW’s Managing asbestos in or on soil (PDF 310KB) informs you of ways to safely handle and dispose of asbestos you find in soil at home.

Where to dispose of asbestos

Find out about waste facilities that will accept asbestos in your region.

Phone first - always contact the landfill in advance to check:

  • whether asbestos is accepted
  • any requirements for delivery

Some places require 24 hours’ notice. They may also have rules about how you package and deliver the asbestos.

Legal requirements for managing household asbestos waste

Packaging and storing asbestos

Asbestos waste means any waste that contains asbestos.

Asbestos waste must be stored on your premises in a manner that does not pose a risk to people or the environment. For more information about how to package asbestos waste, see the factsheets on www.asbestos.nsw.gov.au.

Transporting and disposing of asbestos

IMPORTANT

As the owner of the waste, you are responsible for ensuring your asbestos waste is disposed of lawfully, even if you pay someone to take it away for you. Make sure your contractor gives you a copy of the disposal receipt.

  • Bonded asbestos material must be securely packaged
  • Friable asbestos material must be kept in a sealed container 
  • Asbestos-contaminated soils must be wetted down
  • All asbestos waste must be transported in a part of the vehicle that is covered and leak-proof
  • All asbestos waste must be disposed of at a landfill site that can lawfully receive it

Tracking of asbestos waste

If you have over 100 kilograms or 10 square metres of asbestos waste to dispose of, the person transporting the load to the landfill must create a unique consignment number and report it to the EPA using WasteLocate.

To make sure your asbestos made it to the right place, ask your contractor for the WasteLocate consignment number. Then track your load on to wastelocate.epa.nsw.gov.au.

It is illegal to

  • dispose of asbestos waste in domestic kerbside bins. It is dangerous for Council staff and can contaminate otherwise recyclable waste streams
  • reuse, recycle or illegally dump asbestos products or asbestos contaminated waste not to comply with the requirements listed above
  • fail to comply with the requirements listed above.

Penalties for breaking the law

Fines of up to $7,500 (individual) and $15,000 (company) apply if you do the wrong thing with asbestos waste. Penalties of up to $1,000,000 apply if the matter is heard in court.

The EPA or local council can also issue clean-up notices and prevention notices which require landowners and/or polluters to address pollution incidents. If you are served with a clean-up notice, you must pay for the cost of cleaning up and safely disposing of the waste.

Who regulates asbestos waste

Broadly

Homes with loose-fill asbestos

Loose-fill asbestos is raw crushed asbestos which was installed as ceiling insulation in some NSW homes in the 1960s and 70s.

If disturbed, asbestos fibres can become airborne and breathed in or ingested, which can cause health risks.

If you have loose-fill asbestos insulation in your home, you may be eligible for the NSW government's Loose-fill Asbestos Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program, and the associated Assistance Package. 

Owners of premises can have their property privately tested by a Licensed Asbestos Assessor. In the meantime, avoid entering the ceiling space or drilling into walls.

If the testing shows that the home contains loose-fill asbestos insulation, you may be given the option to have the NSW government purchase the premises and land, or the premises only.

You may be eligible to receive further assistance, including

  • financial relocation assistance
  • assistance in replacing clothing and soft furnishings
  • independent legal advice
  • stamp duty concessions
  • assistance from utility providers and financial institutions
  • counselling services.

Visit the NSW Fair Trading website to learn more about loose-fill asbestos insulation and the Program.

More information

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