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Take appropriate precautions when removing carpets, Govt
15
Dec '09
The Department of Health is reminding people replacing or removing old carpets to ensure they take appropriate precautions to avoid inhaling any dust.

The warning comes as the first traces of asbestos fibres have been found in carpet underlay samples taken from a Perth home.

Director of Environmental Health Jim Dodds said there was a possibility that some underlay manufactured before the early 1970s may have included recycled hessian from bags previously used to transport and store asbestos.

“While the likelihood of asbestos fibres being present in carpet underlay is low, people should remain vigilant when removing old carpets,” he said.

“The Department of Health has recently tested samples of carpet underlay from a number of older houses across Perth but this is the first time any traces of asbestos have been found. We also tested carpet and other surfaces in rooms of the home with the affected underlay but there was no evidence that the asbestos had spread from underneath the carpet."

“We will continue to test carpet underlay samples from homes with old carpets to get a clearer picture of the level of risk and the proportion of homes that might be affected."

“Our main focus is on original underlay that was installed under carpets laid before 1970.”

Asbestos fibres are known to cause several respiratory conditions including asbestosis and mesothelioma, although prolonged exposure to high concentrations of the fibres in air are normally necessary for this to happen.

“I would recommend that people considering replacing carpets that are known to be more than about 40 years old contact the Department of Health to discuss whether a sample of the underlay should be tested as a precaution, before it is disturbed,” Mr Dodds said.

“Householders and carpet industry professionals are reminded to take standard precautions when removing old carpet and underlay in view of this latest result. That includes wearing a Class P1 or P2 facemask and disposable overalls and removing the underlay carefully to minimise the release of dust."

“This will provide protection against inhaling dust and other allergens as well as any asbestos fibres in the unlikely event they are present.”

Government of Western Australia


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