Asbestos - where is it and how to deal with it

If you think you've found asbestos in your home, the first thing is: don't panic - but don't touch it. Asbestos in the home is a risk when it is disturbed in a way that produces fibres or dust containing asbestos fibres. This could include demolition work, renovating, drilling or doing work in or on roofs, around insulated pipes, and so on.

Unfortunately, there are asbestos-containing materials in many Australian homes. Asbestos was commonly used in many building materials before the mid to late 1980's because of its durability, fire resistance and insulating properties.

Asbestos in the home can be in one of two forms. The most common is in firmly bound material (such as asbestos cement sheeting or 'fibro'; water or flue pipes, roof shingles and flexible building boards, some types of vinyl floor tiles or 'lino', plaster patching compounds, etc). The second is in the form of loose asbestos fibres and was used in certain types of insulation products for hot water pipes, domestic heaters and stoves, and ceiling insulation.

Asbestos is a silicate mineral, mined from the earth in much the same way as any other mineral. The wide use of asbestos over thousands of years is due to its resistance to heat and chemicals.

  • WHITE ASBESTOS (Chrysotile) has curly fibres which are difficult to separate. They are white to grey in colour.
  • BROWN ASBESTOS (Amosite) is the type of asbestos found most often in sprayed insulation materials.
  • BLUE ASBESTOS (Crocidolite)