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Think that asbestos may be present in your home or building? If there’s a chance that asbestos is present in your vicinity, or if you simply want to be sure that the area where you reside is totally free of asbestos, it’s always best to conduct asbestos inspection and testing. Asbestos testing is the only way by which you can definitively identify the presence of asbestos in your vicinity.

The Process of Asbestos Testing

Before any testing can be done, samples must first be taken from the area of concern. These samples must be collected by a professional and licensed asbestos consultant and taken to a laboratory that is accredited to the Australian Standard AS 4964.

It is here that the material testing commonly known as Bulk Fibre Identification is conducted. This test is conducted by looking at the samples through two types of microscope: a stereo microscope and a Polarising Light Microscope (PLM). By looking at the composition of the fibres within the sample, asbestos professionals can conclude the presence or absence of asbestos, and if present, what type of asbestos is present.

Safely Removing Asbestos

Once the presence of asbestos has been confirmed through testing, the asbestos containing material should be removed immediately. As much as possible asbestos removal should be done by a licensed asbestos removalist, since it is a dangerous and often complicated process. It isn’t recommended to remove asbestos by yourself and in fact, this is considered illegal in some states. However, if:

  • It is legal in your state
  • You are willing to do it, have undergone the proper training and are well aware of the risks involved
  • Take appropriate safety precautions
  • Need to remove less than 10 square metres of asbestos containing material, then you may remove it yourself.

In the removal of asbestos remember that there must be minimal to no release of asbestos fibres, and if you have more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos to remove, you absolutely must hire a licensed and qualified asbestos removalist. Also, if the asbestos is in powder form or can be crumbled by hand when dry, it must be removed by an asbestos removalist with a friable asbestos license.

How to Remove Asbestos Yourself

If you are to remove asbestos yourself, it is recommended that you take some training first. There are a number of relevant courses available, such as in TAFE NSW and the Housing Industry Association. It is also recommended that you read and follow the Code of Practice on How to Safely Remove Asbestos.

Here are the steps to follow for safely removing asbestos yourself:

1. Protect yourself and your surroundings.

Before you begin, make sure that you and your surroundings are well-protected from any asbestos fibres that may be released. You should wear the appropriate, Australian-standards approved Personal Protection Equipment, including gloves, disposable coveralls, safety goggles and dust mask. The area where you will be doing asbestos removal work should be covered with plastic sheeting at least 200μm thick, and all doors, windows, vents and ducts where air and dust could pass through should be sealed.

2. Thoroughly wet down the material.

Moistening the asbestos containing material helps to keep dust at a minimum. Wet these materials gently with water using a pump spray or low pressure garden hose. Do this regularly during the removal process. Never waterblast an asbestos containing material, as it might suddenly deteriorate in some way.

3. Carefully remove asbestos containing material.

If the material is bolted in place, unbolt or remove bolts carefully while avoiding contact with the material. Do not drill holes or cut through the material. Carefully carry the material and set it down slowly, making sure not to drag, skid, crush or drop any of it.

4. Properly dispose of asbestos waste.

Carefully stack fibro asbestos-cement sheets, dampen and double wrap them in minimum 200μm plastic sheeting, then secure all openings with duct tape. All small pieces of asbestos debris must be carefully placed in an asbestos-waste container. Make sure all wrapped and bagged asbestos waste is properly labelled, and promptly and securely transported to the nearest site that may lawfully receive the waste.

5. Clean up everything.

Once the asbestos removal work has been completed, make sure that all areas of the removal site are completely cleaned and there are no visible signs of asbestos residue. Do not dry sweep or use a household vacuum cleaner. Only vacuum cleaners that comply with Australian standards and are fitted with appropriate attachments can be used to clean the area. Disposable overalls and masks must be bagged and removed along with other asbestos waste.