Seasoned DIY-ers know their limits in terms of which projects are better left to the professionals.
It is fairly easy to understand why some homeowners are lured by the idea of starting a project by themselves — it has much to do with the cost savings and the pride in finishing something with your own hands. However, some projects are simply too complex or carry such a substantial amount of risks that these benefits are essentially negated.
One such project is DIY asbestos removal.
In Australia, homeowners are legally allowed to remove asbestos from their home. However, the Occupational Health & Safety Regulations 2007 Part 4.3 Division 7 Subdivision 2 state that property owners can only remove non-friable asbestos if the area has less than 10 square metres and the task can be completed in an hour over a seven-day period.
What exactly are the dangers of DIY asbestos removal?
The main danger of DIY-ing the removal of asbestos found in your home is mesothelioma, a disease that affects the lining of the lungs. Almost all cases of the disease can be attributed to exposure to asbestos fibres, save for a handful.
Exposure to asbestos fibre can also lead to lung cancer. According to medical experts, when the fibres are inhaled, they can grow within the lungs and alter how the cells multiply and divide. There are some scientists who suggest that asbestos can even alter the DNA.
But apart from these dangers, DIY asbestos removal can be downright inconvenient due to the sheer number of precautions that you need to take in order to limit the risks involved.
For one, power tools, cutting or sanding discs, compressed air and high pressure hoses cannot be used for the removal of asbestos as these can disturb the material and facilitate the release of the fibres into the air. Asbestos materials should be kept thoroughly wet while work is being conducted and the work area should be well-ventilated.
Second, if you are planning to remove asbestos material from your home, you will need to reach out to your local council and enquire about the policies that are relevant to proper asbestos disposal. You will need to ensure that the material you are disposing of is properly bagged and then you have to bring it to the appropriate facility for disposal.
Third, you have to be mindful of your neighbours. Through the Health Act 1958, Australians can call upon the environmental health officer of a local council when they notice nuisances which they deem to be dangerous to public health. Should you fail to enforce the appropriate measures and precautions, you may be subjected to an investigation.
It is highly possible that you can save hundreds of dollars by removing asbestos from your home through the DIY route. However, when you factor in the dangers and hassles involved, those savings can negate the benefits.