Lead paint and asbestos were widely used in the construction of houses and domestic building stock in NSW. Lead paint was used domestically up to 1870 with some types containing up to 50% lead. The paint you buy now contains very small amounts oflead. Lead is still used in industrial coatings and some specialised paints. For further information on lead in paints, stained glass and other materials go to the  NSW Office of Environment & Heritage website. (Search for 'lead')


A wide range of building and construction products containing asbestos were available up to 1987. Asbestos was banned from being used in 'fibro' or sheet asbestos cement products made after 1982; corrugated products (mainly roofing materials) in 1984; and all other products in 1986. Its use was completely banned in 2004.

Licensing Requirements for Removing Asbestos

Since 1 January 2008, an asbestos licence has been required in NSW to remove more than 10m2 of bonded asbestos or any amount of friable asbestos. Licencing for asbestos removalists is regulated and administered by Work Cover NSW. There are two types of licences AS1 licences the operator to carry out work with friable and bonded asbestos, and AS2 licences the operator to carry out work with bonded asbestos only.

For further information go to Asbestos Awareness website for information for renovators and homeowners on managing asbestos; Guide, NSW EPA website for information on Safely Disposing of Asbestos Waste or ACT Government Asbestos website for a comprehensive list of publications for renovators, tradespeople and others. 

To view Dungog Shire Council's Procedure for the disposal of asbestos waste at the Dungog Landfill please click here. 

Treated Timber

'Treated Timber' is wood treated with chemicals to prevent decay from damp rot and insect attack. While the chemicals used are toxic, they pose little risk to human health and the environment if used properly. They can become a risk if used in a way (sawing or burning) that exposes people to high quantities of dust and fumes. For further information go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website to obtain the Report on timber treatments under 'Chemical Reviews' then 'Arsenic timber treatments'.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are organic chemical compounds emitted from some fabrics, carpoets, fibreboard, plastic products, glues and solvents, some spray packs, paints, varnishes, wasx, cleaning products, disinfectants, fuels and manufactured timber. Examples include benzene, acetone and formaldehyde. The rate of emission (off-gassing) from products may decrease over time as they evaporate away. For further information go to the USA Environment Protection Authority(link is external) for information from the United States on VOCs and indoor air quality.

Powdered Materials

Many commonly used construction materials can be inhaled when in their powdered form. Examples include cement, fillers, adhesives, plaster, paint and fertiliser. They can severely irritate the skin and eyes and damage lung tissue and the respiratory tract.