What to Do When You Suspect Your Corrugated Cement Fence Has Asbestos

Corrugated cement fencing was a popular fence material in residential homes in the 1960s. Like most construction materials at the time, fencing materials contained asbestos. Asbestos is a highly toxic material, and by the early 2000s, it was banned in Australia. However, old residential fences still contain this harmful compound. If you have an old corrugated cement fence and suspect it may have asbestos, here are the measures to take for asbestos removal.

Test your fence for asbestos

Just because you have corrugated cement fencing doesn't mean it has asbestos. When Australia phased out asbestos in the 1980s, manufacturers began producing asbestos-free corrugated cement sheeting. Thus, just because your fence is old doesn't mean it contains this hazardous material. There are a few ways you can tell whether your corrugated cement fence has asbestos:

  • Cap material: Fences with asbestos have fibre cement capping, while those without asbestos have metal capping.
  • Material softness: Asbestos-containing fencing has a hard, scratch-resistant surface, while asbestos-free fencing has a softer surface that scratches easily.
  • Markings: Asbestos-free fencing had markings indicating the material does not contain asbestos.

The only accurate way of establishing the presence of asbestos in your fencing materials is through conducting a test. Thus, contact the professionals to inspect your fence and take samples of the material to the lab for testing.

Plan for asbestos removal

If the tests come back positive for asbestos, the next step is to remove the material. If the asbestos fibres are still intact, you have the choice of not removing the material. However, as the fence ages, the fibres may end up in the air and expose you and your loved ones to respiratory complications. Therefore, the best option is to get rid of the fence while the fibres are still intact. 

Note that asbestos removal is not a DIY project. The materials require delicate handling, to avoid releasing the fibres into the environment. Thus, hire professionals for the job. Besides removing the materials, they will also haul the old fence away in sealed bags to prevent exposing the toxic compound to the air.

Test the soil around the site

Fence contractors typically buried corrugated cement fencing at least half a meter in the ground. Thus, the soil in which the fence was installed may contain traces of the toxic material. Sometimes, the fibres may also land on the ground during removal. It's essential to test your soil, especially since you intend to install a new structure. If your soil is contaminated, you should remove and dispose of it to prevent exposure.

Proper removal of asbestos fencing can protect you from the health effects of the toxic compound. Contact an asbestos inspector for professional help.