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Asbestos: Frequently asked questions

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that was widely used in building materials up to 1987. It is commonly found in materials such as:

  • Roofing, shingles and siding
  • Fencing
  • Exterior wall cladding
  • Backing material on floor tiles and vinyl flooring
  • Textured paints
  • Water or flue pipes.

When such materials are left undisturbed they are relatively harmless. However, if the material is damaged or disturbed it may release fibres into the air which can eventually be fatal.

How do I know if a material contains asbestos?

Look in the Yellow Pages under 'analysts' for a NATA accredited laboratory that can confirm the presence of asbestos in a product. Additionally the states and territories may have specific legislation and assessor lists for the assessment of Asbestos that may require consideration.

If in doubt treat the suspect material as though it does contain asbestos.

A person cannot determine whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it. Careful examination using a specific instrument is the only way to verify the presence of asbestos which is why a licensed assessor is required.

I am buying an older house. How do I know if it contains asbestos?

Many houses built or renovated before the mid-1980s were made from asbestos products. Have the house assessed by a qualified occupational hygienist or other suitably qualified professional.

Are houses with asbestos roofs safe?

Never walk on an asbestos cement roof as they are weak. If asbestos cement products are in sound condition and never disturbed, they do not pose a significant health risk. Weathered roofing requires replacement, as structurally poor roofing fails to be waterproof. A licensed asbestos removalist is required to remove and transport asbestos-containing materials.

Are asbestos-containing materials with a small volume of asbestos OK?

Treat all products containing any amount of asbestos as potentially dangerous if disturbed. A licensed asbestos removalist should remove all asbestos containing material.

Can I bury asbestos on my property?

No. It is unlawful due to the health risks should the material become disturbed in the future. It must be taken to a regulated facility that can receive and treat asbestos waste. Details are discussed further in the questions below.

Where and how do I dispose of asbestos sheeting?

Contact your local council for waste facilities in your area.

The Environment Protection Authority in your state can provide information on transporting and disposing of asbestos waste.

I am renovating my bathroom, kitchen and laundry. Should I be concerned about asbestos?

Asbestos products were often used in wet areas of older homes built or renovated before the mid-1980s such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundries. If in doubt, have the material tested by a qualified professional and/or removed by a licensed asbestos removalist.

Where do I find an asbestos removalist, and how can I be sure that they are licensed?

Asbestos removalists are listed in the Yellow Pages and through various websites.

Who to contact about safe management of asbestos in your home

General asbestos safety issues—local council.

Derelict properties—local council.

Complaints about unsafe work at a residential property

Work conducted by a neighbor—local council.

Work conducted by a contractor or worker—WorkCover, WorkSafe or Comcare.

Licensed removal work at a residence—WorkCover, WorkSafe or Comcare .

Removal work carried out by the home owner or tenant as part of renovations or demolition work—local council.

Small removal and maintenance jobs able to carried out by the home owner or tenant—local council.

More information


Australian Asbestos Network

Asbestos wise

Queensland Government Asbestos information 

The Mesothelioma Center

Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Inc

Asbestos info



Asbestos Assessors' Employment


Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia


Gippsland Asbestos Related Diseases Support


Asbestos Related Disease Support Society QLD


Asbestos Diseases Society of South Australia

Asbestos Victims Association (SA)

Asbestos Management and Funding

Asbestos Innovation Fund – ComcareAsbestos at home

Home renovators - Things you need to know before every job

Minister media compilationQLD Minister for Housing and Public Works The Honourable Bruce Flegg - Asbestos removal and management to get top priority

Page last updated: 24 Dec 2015