Asbestos Cement Products
These are among the most common asbestos materials found in and outside the home. Asbestos fibre was mixed with Portland cement and water because it added to the strength of the material. This type of cement generally contains 10–15% of asbestos fibre by weight. However, you can not tell just by looking at the material whether asbestos is present – this requires closer examination under a microscope.
Asbestos cement may be found in many building materials including roofing, fencing, exterior wall cladding, backing material on floor tiles, water pipes, and insulation on domestic heaters and hot water pipes. Visit Safework Australia’s website for a more comprehensive list.When intact, these products are considered safe and asbestos cement is generally considered a fairly stable, non friable product. However, weathering, erosion and processes such as cutting, sawing, drilling, sanding or hammering can release deadly asbestos dust particles. This is why it is not recommended to use power tools or high pressure water blasters when working with or cleaning asbestos cement material.
If you intend to use power tools, fit them with dust suppression or dust extraction attachments designed specifically to capture asbestos fibres. You need to ensure the material is kept wet or take other measures to minimise the release of fibres.There are several excellent guides for the home renovator with detailed information on handling asbestos. Click here to browse documents by state.Removing tiles from asbestos walls also requires special care. The ACT Government has prepared the following fact sheet.