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/Factsheet_print/Tenants_and_home_owners/Loose_fill_asbestos_insulation/Information_for_the_community/_Property_testing_for_loose-fill_asbestos.pdf
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Standard fact sheet.

Property testing for loose-fill asbestos 

Search for a licensed asbestos assessor in your region on the Asbestos demolition licence holders page at www.safework.nsw.gov.au

Home testing
Air and dust assessment
Other

Home testing 

How do I find out if there is loose-fill asbestos insulation in my home?  

NSW Fair Trading does not recommend any untrained or unqualified person entering the roof cavity to take a sample of material that could contain loose-fill asbestos insulation (LFAI).

Loose-fill asbestos cannot be confirmed by a visual inspection as there are other types of insulation that look like LFAI.  For this reason, a sample of the material needs to be taken by a licensed asbestos assessor (LAA) and tested by an accredited laboratory to confirm the presence of loose-fill asbestos.

Homeowners are able to arrange their own private sample testing by an LAA and a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory test to detect LFAI. SafeWork NSW provides a search page for asbestos and demolition licence holders, including licensed asbestos assessors. Enter your search requirements by selecting "licensed asbestos assessor" and the relevant region in NSW.

Where private testing confirms a property is affected by LFAI the homeowner will be eligible to participate in the Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program.

This opportunity is available until 31 July 2017.

Previously NSW Fair Trading offered free sample testing to eligible homeowners in identified NSW local government areas. Registrations for free testing have now closed.

Where in NSW are there homes affected by loose-fill asbestos insulation? 

To find out which areas have properties affected by loose-fill asbestos insulation, or to stay up-to-date with property testing statistics, refer to the Property testing results page.
If you want an overview of the priority being given to NSW Fair Trading's property testing inspections in identified Local Government Areas, have a look at the Property testing timeframes page.

You can search the street address of a specific property to see if it is affected by loose-fill asbestos by accessing the LFAI Register.

What if my property is within a strata scheme?  

Strata schemes that did not register for free testing prior to the 2016 registration deadline and are concerned that the property may contain LFAI should arrange for sample testing at their own expense.

Eligible strata schemes that lodged their intent to register with Fair Trading prior to the 2016 deadline should return the approved special resolution to Fair Trading before 31 March 2017. Download the owners corporation resolution template from the Fair Trading website.

Resolutions can be emailed to AsbestosEnquiry@finance.nsw.gov.au

Before exercising their votes at the general meeting, lot owners should be aware of the implications of the strata scheme being found to contain loose-fill asbestos insulation.

Visit the New Laws page on the NSW Fair Trading website for more information. Lot owners should also be made aware of the assistance available to them under the Government's Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program.

If loose-fill asbestos insulation is found in the strata scheme, individual lot owners will be contacted to arrange for the next phases of the Program. You can read more on the valuation and acquisition processes page on the NSW Fair Trading website.

If the strata scheme did not lodge their intent to register prior to the registration deadline and there is concern that the property contains loose-fill asbestos insulation, the scheme should arrange for an LAA to conduct a sample test at their own expense.

 

What is a licensed asbestos assessor and what will they do?  

A licensed asbestos assessor is qualified to conduct household sampling for loose-fill asbestos. When the licensed asbestos assessor arrives at a home to take a sample test, they will do the following:

  • Show the homeowner their identification in the form of a Licensed Asbestos Assessor Card
  • Find out if any renovations or extensions have been completed at the property to determine whether more than one sample needs to be taken
  • Prepare the site for safe access
  • Establish a decontamination point which is an area for the licensed asbestos assessor to decontaminate themselves, their tools and equipment before they leave the area.
  • Ask the homeowner to move items within the vicinity of the sample being taken
  • Direct the homeowner and any person in the home to stay in another room or outside until the sample has been taken
  • Wear personal protective equipment
  • Take representative samples of ceiling insulation in various locations within the roof cavity to test for the presence of loose fill asbestos insulation.
  • Bag and identify the sample
  • Send the sample to NATA accredited laboratory
  • Produce a detailed report including photographs of the roof cavity area, the method of sampling used and the laboratory testing results
  • If LFAI is detected, homeowners are encouraged to immediately inform the Taskforce.

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How is the ceiling sample tested?  

Samples sent to a laboratory accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) will be tested for the presence of LFAI, in compliance with relevant Australian testing standards.

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How long will it take to find out the results of my sample test?  

Every endeavour is made to provide results within 60 days, however there may be delays due to unforeseen circumstances or during busy periods for licensed asbestos assessors and/or accredited testing laboratories.

Homeowners whose results do not identify LFAI will be forwarded their results via email or mail.

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How do I find out the results of my sample test?  

If the sample test arranged by NSW Fair Trading does not detect any loose-fill asbestos insulation, the report will generally be sent to you (the homeowner) by NSW Fair Trading.

If the sample tests confirms the presence of loose-fill asbestos insulation, a copy of the report will be forwarded to NSW Fair Trading, who will then contact you directly. Your local council and emergency services agencies will also be advised of the result.

Homeowners who privately engage a licensed asbestos assessor to undertake a sample test will have their results provided directly to them.

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What happens if the sample test confirms the presence of loose-fill asbestos insulation in my home?  

If the initial sample test confirms the presence of loose-fill asbestos insulation, the next step is to conduct a technical assessment of your home. This assessment identifies exposure pathways and will assess the health risks associated with living in the property.

The air and dust assessment, arranged by Fair Trading, will be carried out by a licensed asbestos assessor who will conduct the following:

  • a visual investigation of the living spaces of the property to determine possible exposure pathways that are visually identifiable
  • dust and swab sampling in areas which are identified during the investigation as possible exposure pathways
  • air monitoring to determine the levels of asbestos fibres within the air of your home. 

If your home is found to contain loose-fill asbestos insulation, you are then eligible to have your property purchased under the NSW Government’s Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program.

When a property is confirmed to contain loose-fill asbestos insulation, the property address will be placed on the Public Register of affected properties.

The affected premises will also be 'tagged', which means a government-approved label is required to be placed at the electrical meter box.

The purpose of these two requirements is to ensure the health and safety of tradespeople, maintenance workers, service providers and emergency services that may have to access the roof cavity.

The property details will be removed from the Public Register when the affected property has been demolished and the land remediated. Once this has occurred, the property is no longer required to be 'tagged'.

Air and dust assessment  

How is air monitoring for asbestos fibres completed?  

Fair Trading will arrange with you for a licensed asbestos assessor to attend your property to undertake air monitoring. Air monitoring tests for airborne asbestos fibre levels within the property.

This test is performed by monitoring the air quality in key living areas of the property for 24 hours per day over a seven day period. Airborne sampling generally focuses on areas in the home regularly used by residents, areas of suspected contamination and areas of concern expressed by the resident.

All samples are then analysed by a National Association of Testing Authorities accredited laboratory to determine the levels and concentration of asbestos within the tested areas of the property.

Once testing has been carried out, the licensed asbestos assessor will provide a copy of the report to NSW Fair Trading, who will then provide the homeowner with a copy of the report.

Do I need to vacate my property during air monitoring for asbestos fibres?  

No, residents can remain in their premises throughout this testing process. Residents are encouraged to undertake daily activities as usual and complete a diary of daily cleaning activities.

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Is there a safe level of airborne asbestos?  

There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Safe Work Australia uses an occupational exposure level of below 0.01 fibres/millilitre to determine if an area is safe to reoccupy.

The occupational exposure level for asbestos is 0.1 fibres/millilitre.

Homeowners will be contacted to discuss the results of the air and dust assessment.

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Do I have to pay for the air and dust assessment?  

Homeowners who participate in the Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program will not be required to pay for the air and dust assessment. NSW Fair Trading will cover the cost of this assessment.

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Do I have to go ahead with the air and dust assessment?  

No, the homeowner can choose to exit the Program at any time. However, they should be aware that until an affected premises is demolished and remediated, it will be listed on a public register that identifies the property as being affected by loose-fill asbestos.

The property will also be tagged with a warning sign to ensure tradespeople and emergency services are aware of the presence of loose-fill asbestos.

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Other 

How do I know if my home was tested properly?  

Licensed asbestos assessors have specialised expertise in sampling and air monitoring. The nature of testing may differ from home to home, depending on the individual circumstances surrounding the space.

If you have any concerns regarding testing, you can contact NSW Fair Trading by email asbestosenquiry@finance.nsw.gov.au or by calling Service NSW on 13 77 88.

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Am I able to collect a sample for testing by myself? 

NSW Fair Trading does not recommend any untrained professional enters the roof cavity to take a sample of material that could potentially contain loose-fill asbestos.

If you do arrange for private testing and loose-fill asbestos insulation is detected, NSW Fair Trading will arrange for your property to be re-tested to ensure the sample test meets testing protocols.

If you have concerns that your property may contain loose-fill asbestos, it is strongly recommended that you do not enter the roof cavity or collect any samples.

If you do have concerns, you should contact NSW Fair Trading or engage the services of a licensed asbestos assessor.

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