Housing

Asbestos

Asbestos

Sep 2016

Asbestos

Asbestos

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fibre. In the past, asbestos was mixed with cement to make it stronger and easier to mould into different shapes and sizes, such as fibro sheeting.

Asbestos was also popular because of its fire resistance and insulation qualities. 

Asbestos in fibro sheeting can present a health risk if the sheeting is cut or sanded, causing the physical release of the asbestos fibres.

This material is considered safe if it is left undisturbed and is in good condition.

Asbestos fibres, when inhaled, can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The risk of contracting these conditions increases as the amount of asbestos fibres inhaled increases.

People who get health problems from inhaling asbestos have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos over a very long period of time, such as people who have worked in asbestos mines or who have been employed in the production of fibro sheeting.

No. Since 1 January 1988, asbestos has been banned for use in building products in NSW.

Fibro sheeting that may contain asbestos is still present in many homes built before 1988. It was usually used as wall cladding, in eaves and in wet areas such as bathrooms and laundries.

Modern fibrous cement sheeting uses cellulose fibres instead of asbestos fibres and is considered a safe building material.

The long-term risks of living in a home which contains asbestos products is extremely small relative to other risks experienced in everyday life.

It is very important to realise that there are very low levels of asbestos in the air that we breathe while going about our day-to-day lives.

A significant number of the homes built before 1988 could contain some form of asbestos cement, irrespective if they are social housing or privately owned homes.

If asbestos material is in good condition, and is left alone, it is harmless.

Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibres. There is no danger unless fibres are released and inhaled into the lungs.

If the area you suspect has asbestos in it starts to show signs of wear or damage, such as tears or abrasions, contact the Contractor Contact Centre on 1800 422 322 and report it.

A contractor will then come to your home as soon as possible and inspect the area, and possibly take a sample. If material contains asbestos, FACS will ensure it is either rendered safe or removed.

The residential tenancy agreement signed by you at the beginning of your tenancy states that you are not to alter your home in any way without the permission of FACS. This includes cutting into walls, drilling holes, making repairs and so forth.

If you inform FACS that you are seeking permission to do work on your home that might include disturbing fibro sheeting, FACS Housing will ensure your home is inspected and tested where required

The first thing is to make sure you are not exposed to any more dust. Call the Contractor Contact Centre immediately on 1800 422 322.

If you are worried that you have inhaled dust that may contain asbestos, it may be advisable to see your doctor for peace of mind.

Make sure everyone at your home stays clear of the area and contact the Contractor Contact Centre.

A contractor will come around as soon as possible and make sure the area is safe, and may take a sample for testing.

Remember, your safety comes first. Any matters as to who should pay for the repairs if you, your children or a friend has caused the hole can be dealt with at a later date.

All FACS contractors must abide by SafeWork NSW regulations when they handle or move asbestos matter.

No. FACS, on the best advice from NSW Health and SafeWork NSW, considers fibro sheeting safe if it is left unharmed.

No. While the possibility of this having any effect on your health is minimal, the slight chance still exists. Please contact the Contractor Contact Centre before drilling holes in cement sheeting.

Don’t touch it. Report it to the Contractor Contact Centre, who will organise it to be removed.

SafeWork and NSW Health say that living next door to a house with fibro is only a problem when the fibro sheeting is broken or disturbed. There are some things that neighbours can do to minimise any risk during demolition works. You can

  • ask the contractor how long the demolition will take
  • note the phone number of the site manager in charge of the demolition and call him if there are any problems
  • close your windows and doors that face the property being demolished to prevent dust getting in
  • check that the property is securely fenced to prevent access by the public
  • make sure that all asbestos cement is removed from the demolished site

Are all your questions answered?

For more information call the Housing Contact Centre on 1800 422 322, visit www.housing.nsw.gov.au, or visit your local FACS office.

Translation service

If you need help with interpreting or translation because English is not your first language, phone the All Graduates Translating and Interpreting Service on 1300 652 488. They will phone the housing organisation and interpret for you for free.

إذا كنت بحاجة للمساعدة في الترجمة الشفهية أو الترجمة لأن اللغة الإنجليزية ليست لغتك الأولى، اتصل بشركة "أول جراديويتس" All Graduates على الرقم 1300 652 488.

如果你的母語不是英語,需要口譯或筆譯幫助,請致電All Graduates,電話號碼:1300 652 488。

Nếu quý vị cần hỗ trợ biên dịch hoặc phiên dịch vì tiếng Anh không phải là ngôn ngữ chính của quý vị, vui lòng gọi All Graduates theo số 1300 652 488.

www.facs.nsw.gov.au