Asbestos and your health

A guide for householders and the general public

Page last updated: 06 March 2013

Asbestos only poses a risk to health when asbestos fibres are breathed in.

Undisturbed asbestos cement materials in good condition do not pose a health risk because the asbestos fibres are bound together in solid cement.

However, if the material is damaged or crumbling (that is, has become friable), or is disturbed by breaking, cutting, drilling or sanding, fibres are released into the air.

Friable asbestos products (such as spray-on insulation or asbestos-rope gaskets in wood stoves and heaters) also produce airborne fibres during normal use or ageing. Crumbling bonded materials, and all friable products, must be carefully managed to prevent the release of fibres into the air.