Asbestos is a common term describing a variety of naturally occurring silicate minerals. It was a popular building material up until the 1990s because of its exceptional insulating, fire-resistant and reinforcing properties.

Asbestos poses a risk if it is no longer adequately contained in the material it came in (such as due to damage, being cut or drilled into during building work, home maintenance or wear and tear).

Left undisturbed, asbestos is safe – but if it is exposed or damaged, it can be harmful.

The highest risk of exposure to asbestos in the home is through home renovating, by cutting or drilling through asbestos-cement sheeting or sanding down asbestos-backed linoleum or tiles. Left undisturbed, these materials pose a negligible risk as long as they are in good condition and it is recommended that asbestos-containing material in good condition be left alone.

Information below is from Asbestos Aware. This is a website that Selwyn District Council helped to create through its representation and funding provided to the Canterbury Joint Waste Committee.

If testing has confirmed the presence of asbestos in your home and you are starting renovation, demolition or repair work, you can:

  • Leave it undisturbed if it is in a good stable condition and won’t be impacted by the renovation work or
  • Engage a competent contractor to put in place other options for dealing with asbestos such as sealing, encasing or complete removal.

Asbestos left undisturbed, in good condition or sealed is relatively safe – but if it is easily crumbled, broken down, or damaged or if you intend to drill it, sand it or break it up, it can be harmful and needs specialist attention.

Asbestos Aware strongly advises you to use professional asbestos removal companies to undertake the removal, transportation and disposal. They are fully trained and equipped to complete this work and to manage the clean-up. Residue from asbestos left in your home can cause health issues in the future – that’s why it’s so important to be asbestos aware.

There are certain types of work with asbestos containing materials that by law can only be carried out by, or under the direct supervision of, someone who holds a Certificate of Competence for Restricted Work with Asbestos issued by WorkSafe NZ. WorkSafe NZ strongly recommends that all asbestos removal work is completed by an approved provider.

Below is a list (current at July 2015) of Christchurch-based asbestos removal contractors that employ people holding a Certificate of Competence for Restricted Work with Asbestos. You should ask to see the contractors Certificate of Competency before any work commences.

Agility Asbestos Remediation Solutions

03 389 2219

B&D and J&A Contractors

0800 031 443

Canterbury Demolition

03 381 5273

Harcourt Insulation

03 365 2652

Natural Living Homes – Asbestos Removal Ltd

0800 813 813

NZ Demolition and Asbestos Association (NZDAA)

0800 469 322

Scope Demolition South Ltd

0800 665 510

Southern Cross Asbestos Removal

0800 722 711

WorkSafe Canterbury

0800 030 040

Links for further information:

View a register of WorkSafe licensed asbestos removal contractors

Ministry of Health information is available

Community and Public Health information booklet for removing asbestos from your home

WorkSafe information for homeowners about asbestos

WorkSafe guide to PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when working with asbestos

The Christchurch City Council’s Transfer Station in Metro Place, Bromley is the only facility accepting asbestos drop off. They have strict criteria around accepting loads. This includes it being securely double wrapped in 250 micron plastic polythene. Please contact them directly for details 03 941 7513.