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Asbestos Information

Asbestos - a fibrous amphibole; used for making fireproof articles; inhaling fibers can cause asbestosis or lung cancer.

Asbestos Related Words

Amphibole - a mineral or mineral variety belonging to the amphibole group inhaling fibers can cause asbestosis or lung cancer.

Chrysotile - a gray or green fibrous mineral; an important source of commercial asbestos

Tremolite - a white or pale green mineral (calcium magnesium silicate) of the amphibole group used as a form of asbestos

Asbestos Facts

Asbestos is a family of naturally occurring minerals, found in serpentinite and other metamorphic rock.

Because of its strength and resistance to heat, asbestos was used for insulation, heat resistant clothing, roofing and fire proofing. It was also used as an additive to ease the manufacture and application of ceiling and wall finishes, tape joint compounds, floor tiles and mastics.

Since many building materials can contain asbestos, remodel and repair activity in residential and commercial structures which disturbs asbestos-containing materials may cause the release of asbestos fibers into the air. There is no known health threat if asbestos-containing materials are in generally good condition and are left undisturbed.

Inhaling airborne asbestos fibers can increase the risk of developing certain lung diseases, including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Types of Asbestos

There are two types of asbestos containing material:

Friable Asbestos-Containing Materials - contain over 1% asbestos and can be crumbled, crushed or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry. Common examples of friable asbestos-containing materials are spray acoustic ceilings, acoustic tiles, plaster, pipe and duct wrap, and paper backing of linoleum

Non-friable Asbestos-Containing Materials - are typically bound up with cement, vinyl, asphalt or some other type of hard binder. Some examples of non-friable asbestos building materials are cement, vinyl floor tiles and stucco. Non-friable asbestos-containing material may become friable if it is crushed, crumbled, pulverized, or subjected to sanding, drilling, grinding, cutting, or abrading.

Where asbestos can be found

Industrial building

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Where asbestos can be found Industrial building

Residential house

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Where asbestos can be found Residential house

These are the items identified in the images above

ACM stands for asbestos-containing material. Buildings constructed before 1990 are likely to contain asbestos materials. The diagram shows areas where materials containing asbestos were commonly used during construction. These materials are not dangerous if they are in a good condition and remain undisturbed.

Industrial building
  • Roof ventilators
  • ‘Super Six’, ‘Super Eight’ roof sheeting
  • Skylight and manhole frames
  • Asbestos cement vent pipe and capping
  • Fluted ridge capping used on plain roll, fluted saddle ridge, sawtooth ridge capping and ventilatiing ridge
  • Window moulding and louvre blades
  • Barge moulding
  • ACM sheeting or ceiling tiles used in the office area, kitchen, toilet walls or mezzanine area
  • Compressed sheet flooring
  • ‘Super Six’, ‘Super Eight’ or architectural designed wall cladding
  • ACM wall sheeting or compressed sheeting
  • ‘Super Six’ awning
  • Vinyl floor tiles or sheet vinyl floor coverings
  • Compressed wall sheeting used for toilet partitions
  • Moulded telecommunications pit or electrical pit
  • DT surrounds (disconnector trap)
  • Textile in the fuse holders
  • ACM backing to the switchboard and internal lining
  • Asbestos cement downpipes
  • Side flashing
  • Window moulding and louvre blades
  • Rainwater heads
  • Door mouldings
  • Gutters
  • ACM woven fencing product
Residential house
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Cladding, including baseboards
  • Wet area lining substrate
  • Electrical meter board
  • Compressed sheeting (asbestos containing material)
  • Soffits
  • ACM roofing panels, eg Super Six
  • Exterior window flashing
  • ACM toilet seat and cistern
  • ACM bath panel
  • ACM hotwater cupboard lining
  • ACM water tank
  • ACM ceiling tiles
  • Textured ceiling
  • ACM interior window panel
  • Gutters and downpipes
  • ACM surrounding fireplace
  • ACM clad garage
  • ACM fence panels
  • ACM stormwater trap
  • ACM stormwater and sewage piping
  • Loose fill insulation
  • ACM partition wall

Asbestos and the Law

Here are some helpful links regarding asbestos regulations and managing asbestos.

Health and Safety at Work:

Interim Guidance for Work Involving Asbestos:

Environment Canterbury – Regional Council:

Ministry of Health:

The Current New Zealand Health and Safety Asbestos Regulations:

Regulation Information and Guidelines:

New Zealand guidelines for the management and removal of asbestos: