Asbestos causes a number of lung diseases, including asbestosis – when lung issue becomes inflamed and scarred; and lung cancer and mesothelioma. The risk to health increases with the number of fibres you breathe in and how often you are exposed to these fibres.
The fibres are released into the air when something disturbs them in soil, rock, or when building materials containing asbestos are disturbed because of building construction or demolition.
Asbestos was mainly imported and used before the 1980s. Once the health risks of asbestos were known, its use was gradually stopped, and other materials replaced it. However, products and appliances with asbestos content may still be around, particularly in homes built before 2000.
Asbestos containing material is not a risk to your health, providing it is in sound condition and is not disturbed.
If you own your own property and wish to remove any suspected asbestos containing material, it is recommended that you have the material tested first.
If you want to remove or seal asbestos, it’s best to have this done by a professional qualified asbestos removal contractor. WorkSafe New Zealand has a list of certified contractors who can safely remove or seal asbestos.
Health protection officers at Auckland Regional Public Health Service can give you advice on how to safely get a sample tested. They can also discuss with you how to correctly gather a sample.
For more about dealing with asbestos, see the resources below or contact one of ARPHS health protection officers.
Last updated 13.11.2018