Naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) is asbestos mineral in its natural form in soil or rock. Less than 1% of NSW land is believed to have NOA within 10 metres of the surface.
Asbestos in soil or asbestos rock veins can be different colours:
green (anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite)
white (chrysotile, tremolite and actinolite).
NOA is difficult to identify. Follow the golden rule – if it might be asbestos, treat it like it is. Only a licensed asbestos assessor and accredited testing laboratory can confirm if you’ve found NOA.
NOA is low risk when it’s covered or left alone. It can become dangerous if the soil or rock is disturbed by drilling, excavation or roadworks.
If NOA is disturbed, asbestos fibres in the air put people on site at risk. Exposure to asbestos is linked to diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
If you live in an NOA area, you can take some precautions around your home, garden and outdoor areas.
If asbestos fibres are likely to be in the air near your home:
use a wet cloth, mop or steam-cleaner instead of a vacuum cleaner
avoid tracking soil and dust indoors by using doormats and shoes off rules
use rugs you can wash regularly and don’t need beating or shaking
wash outdoor mats with water instead of shaking clean
wash dusty items straight after use
avoid shaking out dusty clothes
wash pets regularly to remove dust
close windows if road works or construction is happening nearby.
If asbestos fibres are likely to be in the air near your outdoor spaces and garden:
avoid using leaf blowers
avoid pressure cleaners or water blasting
keep ground cover well-maintained
seal or pave pathways to reduce dust
use asbestos-free soil, woodchips, mulch, sand and gravel
wet garden areas before disturbing the soil.
Be safe, not sorry, and identify asbestos using the Asbestos Checker.
There are rules about how NOA sites must be managed. SafeWork NSW can guide you through working or volunteering on an NOA site.