Understanding the Asbestos Ban in NZ: History and Rationale

Asbestos Roof Removal

With the help of the asbestos removalists at the Reliable Contracting Group, better understand the nature of the asbestos ban in NZ through this article.

What is asbestos?

The term ‘asbestos’ describes naturally-occurring rock-forming minerals. These minerals are fibrous, and because there are six common types of asbestos, these fibrous materials each have unique characteristics that influence their versatility and strength.

Some asbestos types, such as thin crocidolite, are more fragile than others, like chrysotile, which increases their health risks.

Certainly, no two types of asbestos are the same! Unfortunately, this has made their banning and removal a more complicated process, which extends over several decades.

The history of asbestos use in New Zealand

The history of asbestos use in New Zealand is extensive.

It begins in the 1940s, where most buildings were built, altered or refurbished with asbestos.

This continued until the mid-1980s, where the New Zealand government prohibited the importation of certain types of asbestos in 1984 – namely, amosite and crocidolite. Also known as brown and blue asbestos respectively, these materials featured in everything from asbestos cement pipes to thermal insulation and electrical wiring! With sharper, more brittle fibres, their dangers were noted from the 1970s, but remarkably, this did not mark the end of asbestos use in New Zealand.

Other types of asbestos continued to be used in the same applications unimpeded until 1999, when raw chrysotile was banned. Unfortunately, this ban wasn’t effectively regulated.

The decision to ban all types of asbestos importation occurred in New Zealand as recently as 2016, following the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations. This ban was finally introduced to reduce asbestos-related diseases by 50% by the year 2040.

Why was asbestos used?

Originally, asbestos was used in a variety of applications because it is an extremely heat resistant, strong material. From pipework to roofing, there was nothing that asbestos couldn’t do – until it was realised that their fibres were causing health problems such as fibrosis of the lungs, which greatly impedes your breathing. Now, we know better! Still, sometimes property owners choose the encapsulation of asbestos rather than complete removal – it depends on how your home has been affected, and the fragility of the asbestos material involved.

If you’re concerned about the presence of asbestos in your NZ home, and would like speedy removal, contact the Reliable Contracting Group. We are residential asbestos removalists with a difference – our specialists are highly trained, capable and thorough. We leave no asbestos behind, and carry out a fully transparent service so that you, our customer, can be assured of the standard of the job done.


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