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Managing asbestos in the home

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was commonly used in building work up to the late 1970s, which can commonly be found in:

  • corrugated sheets on roofs
  • sheds or garages
  • bath panels
  • soffits
  • drain pipes and guttering

Breathing in asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related lung disease, mainly cancers.

What is asbestos cement?

A mixture of cement and asbestos.

What should I do if I think I have asbestos cement products in the home?

If the material is in good condition, it may be safe not to remove it but to seal the surface with two or three heavy coats of oil-based paint, paying particular attention to the edges of each sheet and around any securing screws/nails.

If the condition is poor, then you may decide to remove it.

How do I remove it safely?

If the surface is inside the house, it's recommended that a licensed contractor is used.

If the material is outside, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • wear a good quality dust mask
  • wear disposable overalls and gloves
  • wet the surfaces thoroughly with a mixture of water and 25% PVA glue. This should help to seal any loose asbestos fibres
  • remove the material as whole sheets
  • do not break the sheets as this can result in the release of asbestos fibres
  • do not dry sweep asbestos cement debris as this could make asbestos fibres airborne. Debris should be dampened down and picked up

Important disposal advice

  • asbestos material for disposal should be wrapped in heavy gauge polythene and the joints taped over and sealed
  • repeat the process so that there are two separate layers of polythene
  • using a waterproof pen, mark each bundle 'asbestos material - caution'
  • when you've finished wrapping the asbestos material, the disposable suit, mask and gloves should also be bagged up and labelled ready for disposal
  • Asbestos material MUST be disposed of at a licensed site.  Unwrapped asbestos materials will not be accepted.