Asbestos is the generic name for a number of naturally occurring silicate mineral fibres. Asbestos is a versatile product. Due to its ability to withstand heat, erosion and decay, and for its fire and water resistant properties, asbestos was widely used in building materials for residential premises until it started to be phased out in the 1980s. Despite the use of all forms of asbestos being banned nationally since 31 December 2003, building materials containing asbestos are still prevalent in our community today. The most commonly found building materials that contain asbestos are asbestos cement products.
In general, the presence of asbestos in residential and non-residential buildings does not pose a risk to health if it is in a bonded form and in good condition.
Asbestos poses a health risk when asbestos fibres are released into the air and inhaled or ingested. This occurs once a material containing asbestos is broken, starts to deteriorate, or is disturbed in such a way that dust particles containing asbestos are produced. Therefore, DIY renovators and tradespeople are the ones most at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres as they are more likely to frequently undertake repairs, renovations and other work which can generate the release of asbestos fibres into the air. Asbestos is classed as being either bonded or friable.
(as defined in the Building (General) Regulation 2008)
Bonded asbestos is in a form where asbestos fibres are held within another material (for example, cement) but does not include friable asbestos.
Examples of bonded asbestos include, asbestos cement sheeting and corrugated asbestos cement roofs (commonly known as 'Super Six').
(as defined in the Building Act 2004)
Friable asbestos is asbestos that (whether or not contained in other material):
(a) is crumbly, dusty or powdery; or
(b) when dry, can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
Examples of friable asbestos include, sprayed asbestos coating or insulation, asbestos lagging, loose asbestos and asbestos in its raw form.
Asbestos roof tiles (an example of bonded asbestos).
Asbestos fibre as ceiling insulation (an example of friable asbestos).
Please note: these are just examples of bonded and friable asbestos and is not an exhaustive list.
Click here for information on how to safely work with asbestos.
Click here for information on how to safely remove asbestos.
Click here for information on how to safely dispose of asbestos.