Campaign to end asbestos dumping

An estimated 6000 tonnes of asbestos are illegally dumped in Australia every year putting communities at risk and costing taxpayers around $11.2 million each year to clean up.

A new campaign by the federal government is urging tradies and home renovators to do the right thing when it comes to dealing with the potentially deadly material.

Asbestos-related diseases claim over 4000 lives a year in Australia, roughly four times the annual road toll.

This National Asbestos Awareness Week, which runs from November 21-27, the focus is on small-scale construction and demolition projects that can be just as deadly as larger operations when asbestos in involved.

Asbestos is found in one in three buildings across Australia, including many homes.

More than a third of people who encountered the material during a DIY project or renovation admitted to disposing of it illegally, according to a 2021 survey by the Asbestos Safety Eradication Agency.

In most cases, renovators said they put the asbestos in their own or a neighbour's bin.

"The people at greatest risk of exposure are those that work on older buildings and infrastructure where asbestos-containing materials are present," Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency chief executive Justine Ross said.

"However, asbestos can also be found in unexpected places such as in the household garden, garage or storage areas."

It's not recommended members of the public handle, remove, or dispose of asbestos themselves and professionals can be found online who will legally and safely deal with the material.

Heavy fines can be issued for illegal asbestos disposal including on the kerbside or in a skip.

"Disposing of it responsibly, no matter how small the amount, is the right thing to do," Ms Ross said.