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Finding and identifying

The three main types of asbestos are white, blue and brown, used mainly before 1980 in the production of asbestos cement sheeting and piping. Asbestos was also used in the manufacture of vinyl floor tiles, electrical components, brake linings and disc pads. When disturbed, it produces a dust that contains asbestos fibers. Fibers breathed into the lungs can cause a range of health problems including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma

Asbestos can be found in a number of buildings, including homes, workplaces and, community buildings e.g. church halls, schools, civic buildings and public spaces. Asbestos can also be found in soil as both friable and non-friable asbestos (bonded asbestos) and cement products.

As long as appropriate safety precautions are used when disturbing asbestos and it is in a good condition (e.g. bounded asbestos products) then it generally does not release any asbestos fibres into the air and is considered a low risk for people who are in contact with it. However, when bonded asbestos products are damaged or badly weathered (including hail damage) the asbestos may become friable.

You can find the most likely places where asbestos is used in our interactive Find and identify asbestos tool

It is not possible to find out if a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it. A sample must be taken and sent to an accredited laboratory, or by consulting an Occupational Hygienist through the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists.

Concerns about asbestos in community spaces should be discussed with the owner or the manager of the building. If you want to report inappropriate activities you can find out more information about who to contact, and who can help by consulting our ‘Who should I call?’ tool.

Concerns about removal or work being carried out on asbestos near you.

Strict precautions must be taken if the removal of asbestos is required in the workplace.

This includes work by builders and tradespersons working in a domestic home. For large quantities of asbestos (more than 10 square metres) or any quantity of friable asbestos the removal must be done by a Licensed Asbestos Removalist. Regulations also cover the transport and correct disposal of asbestos.

Homeowners must follow reasonable precautions when dealing with asbestos including the transport and disposal of asbestos.

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Find and identify asbestos tool
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