How was asbestos used?

Both friable and non-friable asbestos was used in a wide range of building products before the nationwide ban came into force on 31 December 2003. These products still exist in buildings constructed before the ban.

Non-friable (bonded) asbestos products

Non-friable asbestos is made from a bonding compound, such as cement, mixed with a small proportion of asbestos fibres.

Non-friable asbestos products are solid and rigid, and cannot be crumbled or reduced to a powder by hand pressure.

In the Northern Territory, many buildings were constructed using non-friable asbestos materials, including the following:

  • roofing
  • shingles and siding
  • exterior and interior wall cladding
  • eaves
  • fencing
  • water or flue pipes
  • fire doors
  • floor tiles, linoleum and the adhesives used
  • communication pits and ducts
  • electric circuit boards
  • bitumen-based waterproofing
  • in mechanical service plant rooms

Friable asbestos products

Friable asbestos is made from a high proportion of asbestos fibres loosely held together. It crumbles under hand pressure so it is very easy for asbestos fibres to become airborne.

Common friable asbestos products used to construct buildings in the past were:

  • asbestos-rope door gaskets in wood stoves
  • loose fill roofing insulation
  • spray-on insulation or soundproofing
  • lagging on hot-water pipes and gas lines
  • low-density board used as packers or insulation for domestic heaters and stoves
  • backing material on floor tiles and vinyl flooring
  • textured paints and decorative ceiling coatings
  • heat-resistant fabrics
  • boiler insulation
  • fire retardant material on steelwork
  • brick sealants, fillers and some adhesive products