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How to Recognise and Handle Asbestos In the Home

Asbestos is a toxic material and can lead to serious, chronic respiratory diseases. Asbestos was very popular for some time for its durability and fire-resistant properties and can be found in a wide array of building materials:

  • Adhesives, like cements, caulks and other joint compounds
  • Insulation in walls, attics, pipes, electrical wires and heating units
  • Siding materials like shingles, stucco and transite
  • Flooring such as vinyl tiles, floor tiles and carpet underlay
  • Ceiling tiles and popcorn ceilings

As Landlord/Property Manager, one critical task is the safety of your tenants. Buildings constructed or renovated from the 1940s to 1980s usually have asbestos, but if you’re unsure, you can ask the building owner or check public records.

It may be difficult for the untrained eye to detect asbestos, so if you suspect you’ve found some, block off the area and call in professionals to inspect the space. If disturbed or mishandled, the toxic fibres could be released into the air and be a potential health hazard.

In Australia, the import, manufacture and use of all types of asbestos has been banned since 2003, but reports show there are still breaches in regulation. If asbestos is found in the building or home, the law requires the property owner and any representatives to document and develop an Asbestos Management Plan. Failure to comply with the existing Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) laws could place you at risk for large fines or even jail time.