About this item

Issue date:
21 November 2023
Corporate Author:
Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora
Environmental health, Public health

These guidelines are directed at non-workplace exposure to asbestos in the air. WorkSafe New Zealand is the lead agency for potential workplace exposure to asbestos, and regional councils and territorial authorities also have responsibilities depending on the setting and context. It is therefore important that there is cooperation and coordination at the local levels by respective agencies, which should also include involve formal agreements on how to manage proceed when queries are received.

The guidelines support officers of the National Public Health Service to address public concerns, suggest a protocol for a response related to the likely level of risk to health, and consider how risks may be evaluated and communicated.

Properly applied, the guidelines will help to determine:

  • the risk of and non-occupational asbestos hazard
  • appropriate advice on managing such risk, including appropriately communicating the risk.

People may be exposed to asbestos in non-occupational settings, primarily in and around the home. Asbestos exposure may also occur to a limited degree through para-occupational exposure, such as living in the vicinity of asbestos-related industries or bringing home contaminated clothes, tools, etc. The general population may also be exposed from living close to an asbestos-containing waste site or from a variety of asbestos-containing products, from poorly performed asbestos removal, or from living with deteriorating asbestos material.

Some public concern continues to be expressed about asbestos-cement products, which were used widely in New Zealand buildings until the mid 1980s. These products normally provide a matrix that binds asbestos fibres, preventing their release, but drilling or sawing, especially with power tools, that disturbs or damages the material can lead to fibres being released into the air. There is concern that the fibres released by such mechanical work may be a hazard to health.

These guidelines exclude the following places and activities:

  • places of work
  • ambient (outside) air
  • drinking-water
  • manufactured mineral fibres, such as wool, glass.


2023 revisions

The 2023 revisions are minor and administrative in nature only, from the version published in 2017.     

Download: The Management of Asbestos in the Non-Occupational Environment - PDF, 1.7 MB

Guidelines for Public Health Officers

Download: The Management of Asbestos in the Non-Occupational Environment - DOCX, 1.2 MB

Guidelines for Public Health Officers