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How do I know if it’s asbestos?

Asbestos was used in over 3000 building products before it was banned in Australia. 

You can’t tell if a material contains asbestos just by looking at it. 

Identifying asbestos requires testing by a licensed asbestos lab. If in doubt, follow the golden rule - if you think it might be asbestos, treat it like it is, and contact a licensed asbestos assessor.

Identify asbestos before you start work

If you think it is asbestos, treat it like it is. Contact a licensed asbestos assessor before repairing or renovating.
Asbestos assessor onsite making notes on a clipboard

What does asbestos look like? 

You can’t see or smell asbestos fibres, they're 50 to 200 times thinner than a human hair. 
Asbestos looks different depending on the materials it is mixed with.  

What colour is asbestos?  

Naturally occurring asbestos can be blue, brown, green or white. 

Asbestos looks different depending on what materials it is mixed with and if it is painted over. The colour may not give away if it is asbestos.

What does asbestos smell like? 

Asbestos has no taste or smell. You can’t identify asbestos by smelling it. 

If you are exposed to asbestos, you may link the smell to the material it was in — like soil, rock, insulation, fibro or underground earthworks. 

How do I know if my home contains asbestos? 

If your property was built or renovated before 1990, it probably has asbestos-containing materials. 

Use the Asbestos Checker to help you identify asbestos in: 

  • flooring 
  • kitchens 
  • bathrooms 
  • roofs 
  • ceilings 
  • walls 
  • outside structures like fences and sheds. 

Are asbestos materials labelled? 

Some materials may have a label that says WARNING: CONTAINS ASBESTOS. But just because there’s no label, doesn’t mean there’s no asbestos.  

Follow the golden rule – if you think it might be asbestos, treat it like it is.   

What should I do if I think my home contains asbestos? 

If your house isn’t damaged and you’re not renovating, you may not need to do anything.  

Materials containing asbestos are low risk if they’re in good condition and unlikely to be damaged. 

 If there is damage or you want to renovate, contact licensed asbestos professionals to identify, remove and dispose of the asbestos.

How do I know if a commercial property has asbestos?  

If a commercial property was built before 2004, it must have an Asbestos Register

The Asbestos Register includes: 

  • any suspected or assumed asbestos 
  • where asbestos is located in the building 
  • the condition of the asbestos in the building. 

Do I need to see the Asbestos Register? 

If you’re demolishing or refurbishing a commercial building – or doing any work where you may be in contact with or disturb asbestos – you must get a copy of the Register before you start work. 

If you’re working on a commercial property you have a legal right to see the Register. 

If the building does not have an Asbestos Register, and it was built before 2004, you can: 

  • assume there is asbestos and use safe working practices, or 
  • have the building material inspected by a licensed asbestos assessor before starting work.

Can I renovate if my home contains asbestos? 

You can still renovate if you take safety steps to protect everyone on site and your neighbours. 

There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos, but non-friable (bonded) asbestos that is in good condition is low risk. 

If you think you’ve found asbestos during your renovation, stop work. Contact a licensed asbestos assessor.