Play it safe on as­bestos

NT News - Real Estate - - Realestate - ROBYN WIL­LIS

QWe’re con­sid­er­ing ren­o­vat­ing our house and since we’re both quite handy, we thought we might do some of the work our­selves. But it’s an older house and I think it may con­tain as­bestos. Should we go ahead?

AReal­ity TV ren­o­va­tion shows have fu­elled a lot of in­ter­est in tak­ing on home projects and it can be in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing to your hands dirty work­ing on your house.

But you should un­der­stand the risks to you and your fam­ily be­fore you be­gin, es­pe­cially around as­bestos. Novem­ber is As­bestos Aware­ness month, with the fo­cus shift­ing from pro­fes­sion­als com­ing into con­tact with fi­bro prod­ucts to the DIY com­mu­nity.

Once a pop­u­lar ma­te­rial in hous­ing con­struc­tion af­ter WWII when bricks were scarce, af­ter it was linked to the fa­tal res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease mesothe­lioma, prod­ucts con­tain­ing as­bestos were banned from use in the early 1980s. How­ever, many homes still con­tain the ma­te­rial, which is most of­ten found in walls, roofs and as loose fill in at­tic spa­ces.

Prod­uct devel­op­ment man­ager for Pro Safety Gear, Brad Rodgers says there’s no need to panic if you live in a house built from fi­bro.

“If it is un­touched and painted and well looked af­ter, there’s no prob­lem with liv­ing in it,” he says. But if you’re look­ing to ex­tend, or even main­tain your prop­erty, he says it’s im­por­tant to know what you’re work­ing with and the as­so­ci­ated costs — to your wal­let and your health.

Brad says it’s not some­thing to play around with.

“If I thought there was a risk of as­bestos, I’d call in a spe­cial­ist so they could come in and iden­tify it,” he says. “About 12 months ago my neigh­bour pulled down the fence be­tween us which we thought was old as­bestos. So we sent it away for test­ing.”

There are a range of test­ing ser­vices avail­able but look for those with Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Test­ing Au­thor­i­ties, Aus­tralia (NATA) ap­proval.

For Brad and his neigh­bour, the test proved neg­a­tive, which made a dif­fer­ence to the way it was han­dled and dis­posed of, as well as the costs.

If you’re not sure whether your ren­o­va­tion will put you into con­tact with as­bestos, get the sus­pect ma­te­rial checked be­fore you start.

In­hala­tion of as­bestos fi­bres can oc­cur at any point dur­ing the con­struc­tion process, in­clud­ing when you are work­ing with it di­rectly, or even if you come into con­tact with pro­tec­tive cloth­ing ex­posed to as­bestos.

Liv­ing in your house while it is be­ing ren­o­vated can also pose a risk to you and your fam­ily thanks to the risk of as­bestos dust.

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