Change text size:   Increase font size   Reduce font size  |   Print page:   Print this page
  |   Contact us   

Dealing with hazardous materials 

Safe working practices for renovators

There are important risks to consider when renovating, especially for older homes. Hazardous materials that could become exposed during renovations include asbestos, lead (in some paints), treated timber, volatile compounds and powdered materials.

Help protect the health of your household and neighbours by becoming informed on hazardous materials and safe practices when renovating. Certain activities should only be carried out by a trained professional.  

Hazardous materials

For a list of potentially hazardous materials in buildings, and tips for safe renovation practices, refer to DIY Safe. The resource was developed by NSW Health and the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation.

Asbestos and its removal

Until the mid-1980's, asbestos was widely used in a range of home building materials. If your house was built or renovated during this era, it is likely you have asbestos in your home.

Removing or working with building materials that contain asbestos can release asbestos fibres, creating a health risk. These fibres are too small to see, but if they are breathed in they can cause an incurable cancer known as mesothelioma as well as other illnesses.

Inspecting, removing and disposing of asbestos is dangerous and complicated. This should always be carried out by professionals who have completed the necessary training.

If you home contains, or may contain, loose-fill asbestos visit the Loose-Fill Asbestos Insulation Taskforce website.

Bonded asbestos

Bonded asbestos is when asbestos fibres are bonded to another material, such as a cement or resin binder. A Safework NSW licence is needed to remove 10 square metres or more of bonded asbestos.


Refer to the following sources for more details on handling and disposing hazardous materials, including asbestos:

Asbestos awareness
The asbestos awareness website provides renovators with access to many existing sources of information about how to deal safely with asbestos products.

Office of Environment and Heritage
59-61 Goulburn Street, Sydney
PO Box A290, Sydney South NSW 1232
Tel: 9995 5000 (switch)
TTY: 9211 4723 (for hearing impaired callers)
For information on collection, storage, transport and disposal of asbestos waste.

Office of Local Government
(for details of your local council)
5 O’Keefe Avenue
Nowra NSW 2541
Tel: 4428 4100

NSW Health
73 Miller Street
North Sydney NSW 2060
Tel: 9391 9000
TTY: 9391 9900
For information on asbestos and health risks, and do-it-yourself safely dust and fume hazard information.

SafeWork NSW
92-100 Donnison Street
Tel: 4321 5000
For information on safe working practices, asbestos licences or asbestos in general.

Top of page