20 November 2018

Take care when maintaining asbestos cement roofs

Western Australians are being urged to take appropriate precautions when cleaning asbestos cement roofs.

National Asbestos Awareness week (19 to 25 November) is a timely reminder for people to consider the risks posed by asbestos-containing products.

Principal Toxicologist Environmental Health Hazards, Mirella Goetzmann reminded home and business owners that it was illegal to use high pressure water or air cleaning equipment on asbestos cement roofs.

“High pressure water cleaning breaks down the asbestos cement surface and may lead to the release and spreading of dangerous asbestos fibres,” Ms Goetzmann said.

“Decontamination and remediation of a property after cleaning asbestos cement roofs with high-pressure water can be costly and difficult.

“Contamination must be cleaned up by an asbestos removalist holding an unrestricted licence. Collection and testing of samples from affected areas must also be done, to ensure affected properties have been adequately cleaned up.”

Where possible, replacement of asbestos cement roofs should be prioritised over cleaning and general maintenance.

Ms Goetzmann said that as most asbestos cement roofs were over 40 years old, complete removal and replacement was recommended, as asbestos cement roofs can become brittle with age and be unsafe to walk on, maintain and remove.

“Additionally, if a roof has not been regularly maintained, adequate cleaning without causing fine debris contamination is difficult,” she said.

It is strongly recommended that property owners seek the services of an experienced licensed asbestos removalist for roof removal work.

Western Australians are also reminded that they should follow appropriate safety precautions including wearing disposable gloves and P1 or P2 face masks when working with asbestos containing materials.

For more information how to manage your asbestos cement roof visit HealthyWA (external site).


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