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What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of naturally-occurring fibrous minerals.  

Asbestos was used to create cheap, lightweight, and fire-resistant materials for use in: 

  • building 
  • manufacturing 
  • utilities.

Millions of Australian homes contain asbestos. Asbestos is common in NSW homes and buildings constructed or renovated before 1990.

What does asbestos look like?

Asbestos looks different depending on materials it’s mixed with. Use the Asbestos Checker for images of asbestos.
A gloved hand holding a small pile of thousands of asbestos fibres and tweezers

What are the types of asbestos? 

The two types of asbestos are: 

  • friable — when dry it can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder in the hand 

  • non-friable — when dry it cannot be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure. It is mixed with cement or other bonding materials and is also known as bonded asbestos. 

Non-friable asbestos can become friable asbestos if the asbestos is damaged or old. 

Find out more about friable and non-friable asbestos.

Where is naturally occurring asbestos in NSW?

Asbestos is found in its natural mineral form in soil and rock. Check the map for naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) in NSW.