As a homeowner, finding good quality house maintenance can be tough with a budget. Particularly with older houses, it can be tempting to save money and find solutions for housing problems without needing to hire someone to do it for you. DIY home maintenance is a great way to keep the house in a good condition, but when it comes to asbestos and asbestos removal there are too many risks involved for a house owner to do it on their own.
The use, importation, selling and purchasing of asbestos products were banned in Australia in 2003. Due to the widespread use of asbestos containing products before then, most older buildings and houses will have asbestos containing materials inside them somewhere. When these materials become friable or pose a threat, they will need to be removed to protect the people from breathing in toxic asbestos fibres.
In some parts of Australia, property owners are allowed to remove a small amount of asbestos (only if less than 10 square meters) without the proper license. However, DIY asbestos removal comes with some hefty risks. Asbestos becomes a health risk when its fibres are released into the air and inhaled. Asbestos inhalation can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Asbestos Health Risks
The main reason for the widespread ban on asbestos is the crippling health effects it has proven to have on those who were exposed to it for long periods of time. These illnesses and health damages often don’t come to the surface for 20-30 years and they are irreversible.The main asbestos related illnesses are:
- Lung Cancer
- Asbestosis (lung scarring)
- Benign Pleural Disease
By performing asbestos removal yourself, without the knowledge, training and equipment a professional may use, you are putting yourself at risk of inhaling asbestos fibres and potentially damaging your health. Removing asbestos may be an intimidating prospect for those trying to renovate on a tight budget, but there is no price that you can put on the potential health risks when carried out improperly.
Handling asbestos is also an incredibly delicate and difficult task. Asbestos removal experts state that the reason there is licensing for those to be able to remove it properly, is because it is not as simple as throwing it away and there are many risks involved. Some of the bigger risks of performing asbestos removal at home include:
- Not using the correct protective equipment. The right protective gear is heavy, expensive, and needs to be fitted well. The equipment has been tested to get the most protection for those removing asbestos. Not having this equipment puts you in direct danger of inhaling asbestos.
- Accidents involving the fragility of materials and the dangers of DIY construction.
- Lifting asbestos can be dangerous on the body. Asbestos is heavy, sometimes upwards of 50kg each sheet. Proper techniques and help while moving the sheets are necessary to protect against personal injury.
- Poor removal techniques like not sealing the area and not knowing the professional techniques on asbestos removal poses a huge threat to your safety and the safety of the surrounding environment.
DIY asbestos removal may be a cheap solution to your asbestos problems, but it certainly isn’t worth the risks. The best way to approach asbestos is to have a professional analyse it, send-off samples, and remove it safely and professionally.