Dealing with asbestos

If you find asbestos in your home, there are options including leaving it as it is and not disturbing it, sealing, encapsulating or enclosing it, or removing it.

If you find asbestos in your home

Talk to your local public health service if laboratory analysis confirms there is:

  • asbestos or materials containing asbestos in your home
  • asbestos in the soil around your home.

Possible options if asbestos is found include:

  • leaving it as it is, disturbing it as little as possible
  • sealing, encapsulating or enclosing it 
  • removing it. 

Materials containing asbestos on decorative ceilings, walls, or flooring is not likely to be a health risk unless it is damaged, deteriorating or crumbly. 

If the material is poorly bonded, damaged or deteriorating, fibres may be released in the air. This material should be sealed, encapsulated, enclosed or removed.

Sealing, encapsulation and enclosing asbestos


Sealing is done by applying paint to the surface. When hardened, this stops the release of loose asbestos dust. 


Encapsulation is when materials that contain asbestos are coated with a material that soaks through the material and hardens. This stops the release of loose asbestos fibres. 


Enclosing is when a construction is placed around the material to contain the asbestos. For example, a false wall or plasterboard ceiling.

Sealing external cladding

External cladding, including roof tiles made of asbestos, should not cause any concern if it is not damaged. Even if the cladding is deteriorating, we recommend it be sealed instead of removed or replaced. 

The process of removal will disturb the asbestos. This will release high-risk concentrations of fibres into the air and endanger the health of everyone in the area. If it is left in place, the amount of fibres released poses a small health risk. 

If you do have roofing that contains asbestos, the ceiling under the roof may have high concentrations of asbestos dust, particularly if the roofing is weathered and brittle. 

Using sealants

Using an approved commercial sealant may stop the release of fibres. Both water-based (emulsion) coatings and solvent-based coatings can be used. They can be pigmented or clear. 

Not all paint and surface coatings are suitable. Some may increase fire risks. You should consult the paint manufacturer to find out more about the suitability of the product. 

Power tools

Do not use power tools or high pressure water blasting on external cladding. This will release large amounts of fibres, which are a health risk as a mist or dust, and when they dry.

Removing asbestos

If you need to remove asbestos from your home, we recommend you seek the help of a WorkSafe New Zealand licensed asbestos removalist. This is because of the danger to your health if you are exposed to asbestos fibres. 

Licensed asbestos removalists

A licensed removalist will take the necessary precautions and follow good work practices. This is required by the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016. 

You can find the names of licensed asbestos removalists on the WorkSafe New Zealand website. 

Licence holder register — WorkSafe New Zealand (external link)

If you remove asbestos yourself

If you plan to remove asbestos yourself, follow the advice in our booklet 'Removing asbestos from your home'.

Removing asbestos from your home [PDF, 924 KB]internal link

More information about removing asbestos in or around your home is on the WorkSafe New Zealand website. 

Management and removal of asbestos — WorkSafe New Zealand (external link)

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