Asbestos is found in more than 3000 different building products in NZ. It’s likely that if your home or commercial property was built before the 1990’s, it will have some form of asbestos.
Asbestos is dangerous for your health. Inhaling the tiny, airborne asbestos particles can result in a range of lung and breathing-related diseases, including cancer and asbestosis. While it’s no problem if undisturbed—there is no risk from pipe lagging or fireproofing materials if they remain in place—the minute you need to remove, refurbish, or renovate, asbestos becomes a problem.
How do you know if you have asbestos?
If your home is older, you probably have asbestos in some form. It could be:
- As a sprayed fireproofing layer
- Thermal pipe lagging
- Insulation ceiling panels and cladding
- Floor tiles and coverings that look similar to linoleum
- Corrugated roof sheets
- Asbestos stippling/ popcorn ceilings
The only way of knowing for sure though, is getting testing carried out. A qualified firm, such as TechClean, can attend your residence or workplace, take samples, and let you know the results. TechClean can also advise you on best removal practices, personalised for your situation.
How do you remove asbestos?
The first thing you need to understand is the laws around asbestos removal. Things to note include:
- If there is a small amount of non-friable asbestos, less than 10m2, you or any contractor can remove it
- If you remove asbestos yourself, you still need to follow safety precautions
- If the area is larger than 10m2, a licenced asbestos removal company must be engaged
- The removal must be carried out by those with a class A removal licence.
For small areas of non-friable asbestos, it is possible to remove this yourself, but you or the contractor must take all possible steps to ensure safety.
Step 1: Prepare the area
Clear the home of all pets, animals and people. Remove all furniture and objects from the area you intend to decontaminate. Prepare the room by lining all surfaces that you’re not removing using polyethylene film and strong, wide tape. Close all windows and doors, and seal these with tape. Cover electrical plugs and circuits with tape. Turn off all AC and ventilation systems and cover all vents.
Step 2: Prepare yourself
You will need to wear full PPE equipment. Disposable overalls with a hood, gloves, and shoe coverings must be worn to protect your skin and clothing. A respiratory mask must be correctly fitted and worn at all times while dealing with asbestos. A P1 or P2 mask is required.
Step 3: Avoid all air contamination
There are HEPA filters available for vacuum cleaners. Make a solution of water and detergent and spray the area to reduce the likelihood of dust. Do not use water blasting, power tools or any kind of sanding equipment, as this increases the level of dust. Instead, hand tools are recommended. Remove the materials in the largest, most intact manner possible. Ensure the area is always wet to minimise the dust.
Step 4: Dispose of waste
Asbestos must be disposed of in a safe manner that does not put anyone else at risk. All asbestos-containing materials must be placed in air-tight, sealed, heavy duty plastic bags, and then double-bagged. There are bags designed for this purpose, which are marked to indicate the contain asbestos waste. These should be sealed with a gooseneck twist and adhesive tape.
These can only be disposed of at approved landfills.
Wipe down the area with damp cloths. These will need to be disposed of too. Vacuum the area with a HEPA filtered vacuum, and then dispose of the filter and bag. Remove all plastic sheeting and tape from the room and add to the rubbish bag. Finally, carefully remove your PPE and place is disposal bags. Double bag and gooseneck-tie them closed.
Open the windows and leave the room to air while you shower.
You may need further testing to confirm all asbestos is removed before allowing the house to be occupied.
Get in the professionals
While this goes against the Kiwi DIY attitude, getting in the professionals to deal with asbestos is far safer, more convenient, and highly encouraged. They understand the laws, rules, and regulations around asbestos, and are fully trained to remove it safely.
While you can remove small areas of non-friable asbestos yourself, it is highly recommended that you hire professionals to do so. They have extra precautions and strategies in place, along with the appropriate gear to ensure there is no health risk to them or the home or business residents.
Contact us at TechClean for testing or a quote to remove asbestos. Our class A certified asbestos removal teams in Christchurch, Marlborough, Wellington and Nelson can ensure all risk is removed for landlords, individuals, and businesses.