Asbestos & How It Affects Us

Asbestos is New Zealand’s leading killer in the workplace. Around 170 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases - the largest single cause of work related deaths.  When asbestos fibres are inhaled or ingested, which is most common, the body is unable to break them down or expel them. Those fibres remain in the body causing scarring and damaging sensitive tissues. That damage can eventually lead to cancer or other asbestos-related diseases.


There are three primary diseases associated with asbestos exposure:

  1. Asbestosis
  2. Lung cancer
  3. Mesothelioma

Asbestosis is a chronic disease characterized by scarring in the lungs, which leads to long-term breathing complications. It is caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos, but it is usually not diagnosed until decades after the exposure occurs.

Lung cancer causes the largest number of deaths related to asbestos exposure. The incidence of lung cancer in people who are directly involved in the mining, milling, manufacturing and use of asbestos and its products is much higher than in the general population. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are coughing and a change in breathing. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent chest pains, hoarseness, and anaemia.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that most often occurs in the thin membrane lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, and heart. Virtually all cases are linked with asbestos exposure. People who manufacture and install asbestos insulation, have an increased risk of mesothelioma.


There are two main types of asbestos products, friable and nonfriable

  1. Friable asbestos products can be crumbled, pulverised, or reduced to powder by hand pressure and this type of is known as class A. Some examples of these products include the likes of roping, and lagging products, woven asbestos fire blankets, sprayed products used for heat shielding and protection, and insulation in residential housing.
  2. Nonfriable refers to the type of product that cannot be crushed, crumbled, pulverised, or reduced to powder by hand pressure alone and is known as Class B. This type relies on the asbestos being bonded by cement, vinyl, resin, or similar material and whilst still considered dangerous is less dangerous than the friable type. It is estimated that approximately 97% of building products used were non-friable. Damaged or broken asbestos products which are non-friable may release asbestos fibres initially but will generally be contained within the product provided further damage or disruption does not occur. The exception to this rule is when the product becomes weathered or disturbed in which case fibres will continue to be released and cause danger.

There are requirements under the Asbestos code of practice that must be followed in terms of the removal and disposal of asbestos. It is best advised to have a licenced contractor handle or remove any Asbestos concerning you so the strict health and safety protocols are adhered to.


Asbestos insulation is an example of friable asbestos.

Asbestos Insulation


Vinyl is an example of non-friable asbestos.

Asbestos vinyl

For an Asbestos Survey on your property, give us a call today on 0800 487 884





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