The NEPM summaries health risks associated with asbestos in soil as follows:
‘Asbestos in soil only poses a risk to human health when asbestos fibres are made airborne and inhaled. Bonded ACM in sound condition represents a low human health risk. However, both FA and AF materials have the potential to generate, or be associated with, free asbestos fibres. As a result, FA and AF must be carefully managed to prevent the release of asbestos fibres into the air.
It is an inappropriate response to declare a site a human health risk on the basis of the presence of bonded ACM alone. However, if the bonded material is damaged or crumbling (that is, it has become friable), it may represent a significant human health risk if disturbed and fibres are made airborne.
The site-specific assessment of sites contaminated with asbestos in soil should be aimed at describing the nature and quantity of asbestos present in sufficient detail to enable a risk management plan to be developed for the current or proposed land use. The management plan should address potential scenarios for the relevant land use(s) whereby asbestos fibres may become airborne and pose a human health risk.’
Managing risks associated with asbestos typically involves:
- identifying asbestos and ACM;
- assessing the risk of exposure to airborne asbestos;
- eliminating or minimizing the risks by implementing control measures; and
- reviewing control measures to ensure they are effective.
The implementation of control measures should be based on the following hierarchy of controls:
- eliminating the risk (i.e. remediation or removing the asbestos);
- substituting the risk, isolating the risk or applying engineering controls (i.e. burial, enclosing, encapsulation or sealing);
- using administrative controls (i.e. safe work practices); and
- using PPE.
Additionally, one or more of these controls may be required to adequately manage and control asbestos or ACM.
Epic Environmental specialises in the assessment, identification and management of asbestos risks; providing appropriate technical services and oversight to manage asbestos and associated risks. This is provided to a range of industries including property development, commercial and industrial redevelopment, resources and energy and civil construction.