The Risks of DIY Asbestos Removal

Asbestos is the naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in the industrial and commercial construction industry due to its durability and fire resistance characteristics. It was considered an excellent building and construction material, that is until, it was proven to be a human carcinogenic.

Inhalation of asbestos and exposure to the toxic fibre can cause detrimental health effects such as asbestosis, lung cancer and pleural plaque. Although the use of asbestos products has become heavily regulated today, many homes that were built before 1980s were constructed with asbestos-containing materials.

The problem that now lies with the remaining asbestos products in materials is that when the fibres become damaged, worn, or disturbed, they are released into the air and can get trapped in the lungs. If the product with asbestos is securely bound and intact, it does not pose a threat. However, if the materials are crumbling, the asbestos fibres become friable and are extremely hazardous to anyone in the immediate vicinity.

Asbestos in The Home

With the growth and popularity of DIY (Do It Yourself) tasks within home and improvement and renovations, more people are putting themselves at risk of hazardous product exposure without the knowledge and experience that is necessary for safe disposal of such products. If you’ve found that your home contains asbestos materials (or you suspect it does), inspecting and removing the asbestos yourself is strongly discouraged.

As a homeowner, the thought of having to organise an extra professional for a seemingly simple task of removal can be a foolish and expensive prospect. Although the temptation of executing the disposal of asbestos yourself may be alluring, it really isn’t worth the risks that come with DIY asbestos removal.

Asbestos removal specialists are licensed professionals that have the training, equipment and knowledge to handle and dispose of hazardous materials. In the U.S, some jurisdictions allow private homeowners to remove asbestos materials on their own, however it’s not recommended and is important to understand the hazardous risks that come with DIY asbestos abatement.

Risk of Accident

Most products that were constructed with asbestos products were produced a long time ago and are likely to be weathered and aged. Attempting to remove, transport and manoeuvre such products is incredibly dangerous as you run the risk of damaging the fibres, which releases the toxins into the air, or accidentally damaging other fragile parts of the house.

Unsuitable Removal Techniques

There are many problems that can arise if improper removal techniques are undertaken. If the area is not properly sealed, the asbestos fibres can contaminate other parts of the home unknowingly. If the appropriate personal protective equipment is not properly fitted or worn, those in contact are likely to be exposed.  

Asbestos removal company GBAR Group Sydney also strongly discourage those with asbestos products attempting simplified DIY tactics like wetting the asbestos materials, without the necessary education and training. Often contaminated pieces of asbestos materials are found in difficult places and adding water may result electrical accidents, mould or further damage to an older structure. 

Any debris or equipment used during the removal need to be safely disposed of as well with the materials. Handling contaminated items is incredibly dangerous for those without experience, and all equipment needs to be disposed of legally with the necessary licences to have it transported.

After disposing of the asbestos contaminated materials at an approved facility, a thorough clean needs to be executed of the area it was removed from. Doing this yourself runs the risk of having airborne asbestos fibres contaminate other parts of the house or building. A licensed asbestos removalist will have the training and equipment to leave your home asbestos-free confidently.  

Risk of Health

The heavy regulations on asbestos products can be mostly attributed to the extensive research on the negative health effects it has on humans. Performing DIY asbestos removal involves putting both your health and your family’s health at risk. Once those asbestos fibres are disturbed, released into the air and become trapped in a someone’s lungs, they become stuck. These stuck fibres trigger devastating diseases such as:

  • Asbestosis (lung scarring)
  • Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Benign Pleural Disease

Risk of Injury

Asbestos sheets can weigh very heavy at around 70 to 110 pounds per sheet. For those who are not used to working with this much weight, in a high-risk environment, they are at risk of injuring themselves. Asbestos roofing is also incredibly difficult to work with when ladders and heights are involved.

The safest and easiest way to deal with asbestos in your home is to hire a professional asbestos surveyor and removalist. It’s not illegal to removal the asbestos yourself, however, the EPA advises homeowners to find accredited specialists to undertake the work. Having a professional asbestos company inspect, remove, and dispose of the asbestos also removes all of the risks for you and your family.