Think twice about asbestos. It’s in 1 in 3 homes

Published on 22 November 2021

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It’s National Asbestos Awareness Week (22-28 November 2021) and people in the Byron Shire are warned to heed the theme this year - Think Twice About Asbestos.

Karen Rudkin from North East Waste (NE Waste), a regional organisation working on waste management solutions for councils in the Northern Rivers, said asbestos is present in one in three homes and this should be ‘front of mind’ for all Byron Shire residents.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic the rate of DIY renovations and home improvements in the Northern Rivers has rocketed, and so too has the risk of exposure to asbestos,” Ms Rudkin said.

“Asbestos becomes dangerous if damaged, disturbed or deteriorated and sadly, every year in Australia, an estimated 4,000 people die from asbestos-related diseases because of past exposure,” she said.

Byron Shire Council, in partnership with NE Waste, is asking everyone to stay safe around asbestos, by taking these simple steps. 

  1. Get in the know by finding out where asbestos can be around the home.
  2. Take it slow and not disturb or damage asbestos.
  3. Get a pro when doing home improvements.  A licensed asbestos professional can locate, manage, or remove asbestos from a renovation.

“If you do become aware of asbestos in your home, be sure to follow the three simple steps to stay safe and never dispose of asbestos in a kerbside bin where it can present a real danger to everyone including neighbours, council staff and the environment,” Ms Rudkin said.

As part of a regional subsidised scheme aimed at reducing the unsafe removal of asbestos by home renovators, Byron Shire residents may be eligible for a free household asbestos testing kit.

“These kits are available from Council’s office in Mullumbimby and people can send up to two samples of building materials and the laboratory will email the results back to people,” she said.

“If the results are positive for asbestos then people can make informed decisions around how to safely remove and dispose of the material.

“People can also buy $30 Household Asbestos Disposal kits from the Byron Resource Recovery Centre.

“These kits are designed for the safe removal of up to 10m2 of bonded asbestos,” Ms Rudkin said.

Byron Shire residents wanting to dispose of asbestos need to go to landfills in the Tweed, Lismore, Richmond Valley or Kyogle shires because the Resource Recovery Centre at Myocum is not licensed to take asbestos.  

“By preventing exposure to asbestos fibres now, future asbestos-related diseases can be eliminated so we’re encouraging everyone to Think Twice About Asbestos this November,” Ms Rudkin said.

Information on asbestos and disposal kits is on Council’s website or the NE Waste website.

For media enquiries contact Karen Rudkin from NE Waste on 0401 941 330.

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