Asbestos is a term for a group of six naturally occurring mineral fibres belonging to two groups:

  • Serpentine Group – comprised of only chrysotile (white asbestos)
  • Amphibole Group – comprised of anthophyllite, amosite (brown asbestos or grey asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), tremolite, and actinolite.

Asbestos was long viewed as one of the most versatile minerals because of its flexibility, tensile strength, insulation from heat and electricity, chemical inertness and affordability.

The versatility of asbestos made it attractive to many industries and is thought to have more than 3000 applications worldwide. Australia was one of the highest users per capita in the world up until the mid-1980s. Approximately one third of all homes built in Australia contain asbestos products. The widespread use of asbestos has left a deadly legacy of asbestos material due to asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) can be categorised as friable and non-friable. Non-friable asbestos, where it is mixed with other materials like cement, is the type most commonly found in our built environment. Friable asbestos is more likely to become airborne. Both friable and non-friable asbestos pose a significant health risk to all workers and others if the materials are not properly maintained or removed carefully. In the built environment, potential health risks are posed where there is:

  • the presence of ambient levels of asbestos
  • weathering of ACMs
  • the presence of damaged ACMs
  • building and/or maintenance work involving ACMs and
  • demolition and/or removal of ACMs.

The risk of exposure from the built environment is broad, with the potential to impact the entire Australian community.

The use of ACMs in the home has been extensive and there are many areas in the home where ACMs can be found including (but not limited to):

  • roof sheeting and capping
  • guttering
  • gables, eaves/soffitswater pipes and flues
  • wall sheeting (flat or a weatherboard style
  • vinyl sheet flooring
  • carpet and tile underlays
  • zelemite backing boards to the switchboards
  • flexible building boards
  • imitation brick cladding
  • fencing
  • carports and sheds
  • waterproof membrane
  • telecommunications pits
  • some window putty
  • expansion joints
  • packing under beams
  • concrete formwork

Regulation 4B of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 now also references the current legislation covering the safe removal of asbestos.

Additional information can be found on the following websites:

Asbestos Awareness
Work Safe Tasmania


The demolition of any building or part of a building is not to be undertaken unless a permit has been issued by Council. For enquiries regarding demolition, please contact Council's Building Department at our Riverside office or on 6323 9315.

Sub Floor Ventilation

To prevent the deterioration of timber floor construction, adequate ventilation must be provided to the sub-floor area. Moisture from the ground must be prevented from causing undue dampness or deterioration of building elements. The National Construction Code states "clearance between the ground surface and the underside of the lowest framing member must be not less than 150mm." Clearance must also comply with any "Manufacturers Installation Requirements", for the flooring material used.

For more information, see Sub floor ventilation advice.

Wood Heater Installation

Council does not make inspections of wood, oil or coal burning heater installations but notification of their installation is required. Notification is the responsibility of the installer. Only heaters that comply with the Australian Standard for wood heaters can be installed. If you are planning on installing a heater, you must submit the following forms to Council's Building Department:

Prior to installation - Notification of Intention to Install Heating Appliance

After installation - Heating Appliance Installation Compliance Certificate

For further details, contact Council's Building Department at our Riverside office.

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