This page provides information about the safe handling and disposal of asbestos and how you can report an asbestos problem.
Our environmental health team responds to and investigates complaints regarding asbestos, including carrying out inspections and providing advice on safe repair, handling and disposal of asbestos materials. Our rangers respond to instances of illegal dumping of asbestos materials on public land.
Report an Asbestos Problem
To report an asbestos problem in your area, please contact us or lodge a request online .
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fibrous silicate mineral. It was used extensively in building products in Western Australia from the mid-1940s to late 1980s. Although no longer used, there is still a widespread presence of asbestos in the community.
It is a known carcinogen but only poses a health risk if fibres become airborne and are inhaled into our lungs. If inhaled, it can cause life threatening diseases, including lung cancer, pleural disease, asbestosis and mesothelioma. The level of exposure required to develop each of these diseases varies, however the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease with exposure levels the public may experience is extremely low. If left undisturbed asbestos generally does not pose a health risk.
Since the ban of asbestos in Australia in December 2003, it has been important for residents and local business owners to prevent asbestos fibres from entering the air when moving, exposing or disposing of any material containing asbestos.
Where Asbestos is Found
Properties built before 1987 are more than likely to have building materials containing asbestos. Asbestos was commonly mixed in cement or woven into fabric and used for insulation purposes.
Common places asbestos can be found include:
- Fibro sheets
- Downpipes and gutters
- Ceiling, floor, boiler or oven insulation
- Roof and floor tiles
- Flooring adhesives
- Soundproofing materials
- Plaster and joint compounds
- Plastics in paints and adhesives
- Casings for electrical wires
- Dog kennels
- Garages and sheds
- Kitchen splashbacks
- Flues to fireplaces
- Carpet underlay
To determine if the materials contain asbestos, a laboratory microscopic examination is required. The laboratory engaged should be a National Association of Testing Authorities Australia accredited premises.
Renovators are encouraged to get licensed professionals to help remove and dispose of asbestos, but if you intend to remove asbestos yourself then remember to:
- Get any suspected material tested to see if it does contain asbestos
- Wet the surface of asbestos material down with a low pressure hose before commencing work to prevent blowing asbestos fibres into the air
- Do not use power tools on any asbestos material
- Try and keep the asbestos in one piece
- If you need to break any asbestos sheets make sure the surfaces are very wet, to reduce the likelihood of fibres being released into the air
- Wear suitable personal protective clothing - disposable coveralls and gloves are best
- Wear a P1 or P2 respirator so you don’t inhale any fibres
- Wash your hands and shower after handling asbestos cement products
- Dispose of asbestos material at an approved landfill site
We recommend that the removal of large quantities or the removal of friable asbestos such as thermal and acoustic products (e.g. insulation and lagging) be completed by a licensed asbestos removalist contractor. You can search for a contractor with a Restricted Asbestos Licence on the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website.
Anyone handling or disposing asbestos needs to comply with the requirements of the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992. This is regulated by the Citys’ environmental health officers.
It is recommended you engage a licensed asbestos contractor to dispose of asbestos, but if you are disposing it yourself you will need to ensure:
- Asbestos material is separated from other material and wrapped in heavy duty plastic sheeting and taped shut.
- The asbestos sheeting is kept damp while wrapping it.
- The sheeting must then be labelled clearly with 'Caution Asbestos' on the front.
All asbestos material must be disposed of at a landfill or waste disposal site licensed by the Department of Water and Environment Regulation. Not all landfill sites accept asbestos. For more information about licensed landfill disposal sites near you, see the Guidelines for Disposing Asbestos factsheet. You can also use the searh tool on the Federal Government's Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency website.
Repairing or Disposing an Asbestos Fence
There are a number of important safety procedures you should use when repairing or disposing an asbestos fence. See our guide Repairing and Disposing an Asbestos Fence.
Asbestos Online Training
The Cancer Council WA and the Department of Health have launched a free online course on asbestos, where home renovators and DIYers can learn more about asbestos-related diseases and locating, safely handling and disposing of asbestos.
Forms and Documents