Knowing how to manage asbestos and hazardous materials in the workplace or home can be daunting. Our Assessors are available to answer any questions you may have. If you can’t find what you are looking for here, please contact us on 02 6239 5656 to discuss.


My sample came back positive, now what?

Depending on the material, the location and the current condition, there are a couple of different approaches. Non friable asbestos containing materials (ACMs) that are in a good condition can more often then not remain in situ safely. For example, fibro sheeting to walls, eaves, ceilings etc can remain in place provided there is no damage. It is important to be aware of the condition of ACMs so that the correct course of action can be taken in the event that damage is inflicted. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions relating to safe management of ACM.

The asbestos only needs to be removed if you want to do something that would disturb it (like demolish, sand it, cut it etc.) or if it’s in a poor condition or an unstable material. If works are intended on the area, ACMs need to be removed by a licensed asbestos removalist.

Contact a licensed removalist to conduct the works:

Please note that Robson’s does not conduct removal, as being Assessors it would be a conflict of interest. You should ensure that any Assessor you engage is not associated with an asbestos removal company.


How often do we need to update our Asbestos Register?

By law, a commercial, industrial or community building in the ACT built before 31 December 2003 needs an Asbestos Register and Risk Assessment. A reinspection is required at least every five years, when requested by a health and safety representative, when asbestos is removed, disturbed, sealed or enclosed, when changes to a control measure are made, when the plan is no longer adequate or at intervals stated by the licensed Asbestos Assessor. Regulations do not require a private home to have an Asbestos Register but if you are undertaking renovations or demolition your DA may require you to have one. It is also good practice to know what materials are in your home so they can be managed effectively.


How long will it take to get my report and what will it cost?

This varies depending on the type of report and the size of the property. To ensure quality, our Assessors approach every survey and report as a unique and very important document. We do not churn out a one size fits all report and we take sufficient samples for laboratory analysis to be able to confidently state which materials accessible at the time of the survey are positive and which are negative. This takes extra time and may marginally increase cost, but a report which simply assumes suspect materials as being asbestos will require you to manage it as asbestos for years to come, or even remove it as asbestos at significant cost.

For a small building 10 days turn around could be expected. A complex multi storey building could be several weeks. If you urgently need a report please contact our office as we may be able to reduce this time. Our Hazmat staff will be pleased to send you a quotation and discuss cost with you.


How dangerous is asbestos?

Asbestos is a known carcinogen (cancer causing agent). Exposure to asbestos can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, pleural plaques, mesothelioma and a range of other diseases. Mesothelioma is cancer of the pleural cavity around the lungs. It can also affect the peritoneal lining to the abdomen. The only known cause is asbestos exposure. There is no cure.

It appears that the likelihood of disease increases with the dose and type of asbestos. Crocidolite or blue asbestos is by far the most dangerous. Amosite or brown asbestos is considered less dangerous than crocidolite, but more dangerous than chrysotile or white asbestos. All forms of asbestos can however cause disease. There is no known safe level of exposure as individuals genetic makeup makes some people more or less likely to develop asbestos related disease. Just as some people smoke tobacco for many years and suffer no obvious illness, others may develop disease from side stream or passive smoking. The same applies to asbestos exposure. As a naturally occurring mineral asbestos is also present in the environment but at extremely low levels. In order to reduce the potential for disease it is important to limit exposure to the lowest practicable level.

Symptoms of asbestos disease typically show 20 – 40 years after exposure. Smoking greatly increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer or asbestosis, but is not associated with mesothelioma. There were 656 mesothelioma deaths in Australia in 2013 and roughly the same number are diagnosed each year. Many of these cases were the result of asbestos mining, manufacturing and installation in the second half of last century. However we are now seeing mesothelioma developing in people who were exposed to asbestos at much lower levels such as when undertaking DIY on asbestos cement sheet (fibro). Australia has the highest known incidence of mesothelioma in the world.

Occasional or short exposure to asbestos is unlikely to cause disease in the vast majority of people. However in order to best ensure the safety of everyone it is vital to remove or stabilise asbestos products wherever possible.


What materials may contain asbestos?

Asbestos is used mainly as heat, sound and moisture insulation. It has been used for thousands of years. It was woven into cloth by ancient Egyptians, used in clay to allow it to be fired at the higher temperatures required to produce finer pottery and lined suits of armour. During the Industrial Revolution steam power required insulation to pipes and boilers and this was continuously in use until late last century. It was used as heat insulation lining to trains and aircraft. It was woven into fire fighters clothing and balaclavas used by racing car drivers. The actor Steve McQueen was an avid racing car driver who died of mesothelioma. The post war housing boom in Australia needed cheap, easy to erect building materials and asbestos cement sheet or ‘fibro’ was used extensively. There are thousands of products which contain asbestos – water pipes, sheet, roofing materials, electrical insulation, industrial adhesives, vinyl floor tiles, papers, cigarette filters, pipe lagging, brake linings, gaskets and many others. The mining, importing and manufacturing of asbestos products has been stopped in most developed countries for around 20 years, but chrysotile is still widely used in many developing countries.


What is NATA Accreditation?

National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) is the authority that provides independent assurance of technical competence through a proven network of best practice industry experts for customers who require confidence in the delivery of their products and services. NATA provides assessment, accreditation and training services to laboratories and technical facilities. Robson Environmental operates a NATA accredited asbestos identification and air monitoring laboratory – accreditation number 3181 – and all our asbestos and hazmat surveys are also NATA accredited.

Visit the NATA Website for more information.


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Asbestos Response Taskforce

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