How to Remove and Dispose of Asbestos From Your Home

Asbestos poses serious health risks, and exposure can lead to asbestosis and increased risks of lung and larynx cancer as well as mesothelioma. With that in mind, you should exercise extreme care when dealing with asbestos in your home. If you are making it a DIY project to remove and dispose of asbestos, we offer a step-by-step guide on how to do so quickly, safely, and successfully below.

Step 1: Checking Local Restrictions

If you suspect there is asbestos in your home, your first step should always be to check local restrictions on how to deal with it. You can do so by contacting your council or browsing for details on regulations online, but note you should only trust and act on information from official sources.

For example, NSW regulations state you can only remove up to 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos on your own. You must use a licensed professional for larger asbestos removal works and projects involving any amount of friable asbestos.

Step 2: Preparing Yourself

Once you’ve made sure you can remove asbestos yourself, it’s essential to go through a checklist and make sure you are well-prepared for the challenge. First and foremost, you will need personal protective equipment to protect yourself and co-workers from asbestos exposure. PPE for your asbestos removal project includes:

  • RPE (respiratory protective equipment) – where you may go for a P2 face mask or, even better, a dust mask respirator to prevent inhaling asbestos.
  • Overalls – where you can go for disposable or washable overalls you take off on the site to avoid contaminating the immediate environment with asbestos.
  • Headwear, Footwear, and Gloves – where you can choose between disposable or rubber options you will clean thoroughly afterwards.

Step 3: Identifying Asbestos Risks

Assess the work to be done and the risks involved. Start by inspecting and identifying potential asbestos-contaminated materials and creating a plan for removing them. It’s important to note that lab testing is the only way to identify asbestos with 100% certainty.

You will want to avoid using power tools that could disturb asbestos as you work, which is an important consideration. Consider other potential hazards that could be in the way, including live wires, tight spaces, and heat. Make sure to consider all of these and disconnect utilities if needed too.

Step 4: Preparing the Area

Now it’s time to prepare the site. Isolate the area you will work in, put barricades and signs to make sure other people avoid it. It will be important to keep the dust levels to a minimum as you work, but you also want to turn off any fans to avoid potentially spreading asbestos fibres. 

Remove furniture, carpets, and other objects that could be contaminated. Cover the ground and remaining furniture with thick plastic sheets (preferably polythene of at least 200 μm). Create a buffer zone with doors or plastic curtains, ensure you have enough light, and provide appropriate vacuuming tools. 

Bunch of asbestos being removed

Step 5: Removing Asbestos-Containing Materials

You’re good to go! However, even with all of the precautions listed above, it’s crucial to remain attentive, careful, and calm as you:
  • Lightly spray water on all suspicious surfaces to thoroughly wet the materials
  • Handle asbestos-containing materials without breaking or damaging them 
  • Place said materials into sealed and clearly marked containers.
  • Collect debris and wipe surfaces with a wet cloth to keep the site tidy and dust-free

Step 6: Disposing and Cleaning Up

To dispose of asbestos, you will need to double-bag all asbestos-contaminated materials. Use approved asbestos removal bags and seal them properly both times, ensuring they are safe for transport. Clean up all surfaces with wet cloths and dispose of them in the same way.

All materials, cloth, and protective gear must be transported to a licensed landfill that accepts asbestos. Make sure you have one before starting work so that there are no hiccups when you’ve already loaded the truck. Note you must transport asbestos-containing materials in a covered truck.

Step 7: Decontaminating

Roll the PVC sheets you used in with no asbestos on the outside. Dispose and wipe the entire area with a clean, wet cloth. You may then use a buffer zone on your site to decontaminate yourself or do so in a separate space with restricted access. 

You will need to remove disposable face, head, and foot covers and double-bag them, while washable PPE needs to be thoroughly washed. You and all workers will also need to shower thoroughly before changing to ensure no asbestos fibres are left over on your bodies.

Final Thoughts

That’s it! That was our simple guide to your DIY asbestos removal project, with steps you can follow to get the job done safely. While removing asbestos is a rather straightforward process, it’s still a dangerous task that could be best left to professional asbestos removalists such as Hives Demolition. 

If you have no experience or lack the gear, you may cause damage to your health or the environment. Do not inspect, assess, or handle asbestos-containing materials if unsure.