Naturally Occurring Asbestos: A Hazard in Rural & Regional Australia

MEDIA RELEASE: Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Naturally Occurring Asbestos: A Hazard in Rural & Regional Australia

Landowners and managers are urged to respect the risks of Naturally Occurring Asbestos during National Asbestos Awareness Month (1-30 November) and to download resources developed to help people living and working in rural and regional Australia to effectively manage Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) safely.

NOA occurs in some rocks, sediments and soils in various regions of NSW, WA, TAS and VIC. If covered and left undisturbed, NOA is not considered dangerous. However, if disturbed and microscopic fibres become airborne or settle on clothing or equipment and can be inhaled, NOA can cause incurable diseases including malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. There is no known safe level of exposure to fibres although the more fibres inhaled, the greater the risk to health.

Clare Collins, Director of the National Asbestos Awareness Month campaign who developed the NOA resources in consultation and in association with government representatives and asbestos and hazardous materials experts said, “In regions where NOA is known, property owners, managers and workers who may disturb the ground surface during their day-to-day work must take appropriate precautions to ensure NOA is identified and managed safely in accordance with regulations.

“The user-friendly Naturally Occurring Asbestos – Asbestos Management Plan Guide explains the reasons why people must manage NOA safely, when and where NOA may pose a potential health risk, who to contact for advice, and the steps required to manage NOA safely in accordance with Work, Health and Safety Regulations and the Codes of Practice for asbestos management,” she said.

“The NOA Guide is free and can be downloaded from The Guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to conduct risk assessments, when, why and who should conduct testing, the training requirements for workers, safe work procedures, control measures, and how to dispose of NOA according to government regulations,” said Ms Collins.

User-friendly templates are also provided including; property and site specific risk assessments, incident procedures and reports, worker training records and Fact Sheets on how to use and dispose of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as providing step-by-step decontamination procedures.

John Batty, President of the Asbestos & Hazardous-Materials Consultants Association (AHCA) and the Managing Director of EDP Consultants, a global provider of Health, Safety and Environmental Services said, “The risk of asbestos fibre release from the disturbance of NOA is significant.  This can be as dangerous as the disturbance of asbestos-containing materials commonly found in homes, sheds and other structures.

“The inhalation of asbestos fibres can potentially lead to the development of asbestos related diseases such as malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer,” he said. 

“It’s vital that those living and working on properties where NOA has been identified respect the dangers of NOA, follow the regulations and ensure sufficient controls are established to limit the disturbance of soils containing NOA to mitigate the risk of asbestos fibre release,” Mr Batty said.

The Naturally Occurring Asbestos – Asbestos Management Plan Guide was developed in consultation with key stakeholders including councils and government regulators to help landowners and managers who work in regions where NOA is identified to ensure they manage NOA safely in accordance with regulations.



  • For Interview requests with John Batty, please contact Insight Communications 02 9518 4744



Images of NOA can be downloaded here:


Naturally Occurring Asbestos has been identified in various Australian states and territories.

To find out if your region is affected contact your council or the government asbestos regulator in your state or territory. See links:


  • Asbestos is a group of minerals that readily separate into long flexible fibres.
  • NOA occurs naturally it can be found in some rocks, sediments and in soils in various states and territories. NOA is not easily identified.
  • NOA can be blue (crocidolite), brown (amosite), green (anthophyllite and tremolite, actinolite) or white (chrysotile and tremolite, actinolite).
  • The management of NOA is regulated so contact your council or state regulator to ensure you meet the health and safety requirements.
  • By identifying the potential for the occurrence of NOA people can determine the risks, control measures and the levels of controls required to manage it safely.
  • Asbestos Awareness recommends that ONLY occupational hygienists or licenced asbestos assessors collect samples for testing by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) laboratory to confirm the presence of asbestos in any workplace including in building materials or in its natural forms (NOA) in the environment.
  • If stable, covered and undisturbed, it is believed that NOA doesn’t pose a risk to health.
  • NOA can become a health risk if weather conditions or work that may be undertaken (such as digging, cultivation and excavation) disturbs NOA and releases fibres that can be inhaled.


The Naturally Occurring Asbestos – Asbestos Management Plan Guide and the 6 support resources were developed to provide landowners with a better understanding of NOA and the steps required to manage it safely in accordance with regulations.

The Guide Includes:

  • The Guide Includes:What landowners need to know about NOA
  • When NOA is a potential risk
  • How to know if an Asbestos Management Plan for NOA is required
  • The steps to take to develop an Asbestos Management Plan
  • How to conduct a Risk Assessment for NOA                  
  • Safe work procedures and control measures for NOA
  • Useful resources and contact details for advice and information

NOA Templates and Fact Sheets Include:

  1. The Naturally Occurring Asbestos – Asbestos Management Plan Guide
  2. Asbestos Management Plan – Property Risk Assessment – Template
  3. Asbestos Management Plan – Site Specific – Template
  4. Incident Procedures & Report – Template
  5. Workers Training Requirements & Records – Template
  6. NOA RPE & PPE – Factsheet

STATE DEPOSITS OF NOA – Geological Society of Australia   

In Western Australia, banded iron formations in the Hamersley Ranges contain blue asbestos veins that were mined at Wittenoom. Asbestos is also documented in the Greenstone Belts in the Yilgarn and Pilbara Cratons and parts of the Kimberley region and these may be a source of concern if unknowingly disturbed.

In Tasmania, asbestos deposits are associated with the rock: serpentinite. Serpentinite commonly contains low levels of chrysotile and sometimes tremolite asbestos and narrow belts of asbestos bearing serpentinite were mined in the Beaconsfield district in the last century. Other asbestos deposits occur near Zeehan and along the shores of Macquarie Harbour.

In New South Wales asbestos deposits are associated with the rock: serpentinite. Asbestos bearing serpentinite occurs in the Tamworth – Barraba area, near Baryugil and in a belt that stretches from Young to near Tumut and Kiandra. Most of these outcrops are in remote areas, but NOA bearing serpentinite belts also occur near Gundagai, Orange and Port Macquarie.

In Victoria asbestos deposits are found in rural and remote parts of the state associated with the rock: serpentinite. Narrow belts of asbestos bearing serpentinite are known from the “Heathcote Greenstone Belt” (between Kilmore-Dookie), at “The Hummocks” in western Victoria, in the Upper Howqua River area and the “Dolodrook River Greenstones”.


JOHN BATTY – President of the Asbestos & Hazardous-Materials Consultants Association

John Batty is the President of the Asbestos & Hazardous-Materials Consultants Association (AHCA) and the Managing Director of EDP Consultants, a global provider of Health, Safety and Environmental Services. John has over 17 years’ experience in asbestos and hazardous materials management gained through providing consultancy services to a number of government and private organisations.

John holds an Asbestos Assessors Licence with SafeWork NSW and is experienced in the identification, management and removal of asbestos and asbestos impacted soils.  John is also an active member of the NSW Demolition and Asbestos Consultative Committee and is part of current industry working groups focusing on asbestos in soil management, non-destructive digging and lead paint and dust management. 

PLEASE NOTE: A Photograph of John Batty is available on request.


The Asbestos and Hazardous Materials Consultants Association (AHCA) is an association for industry professionals within the asbestos and hazardous materials community. The aim of the AHCA is to drive and encourage best practice through consultation and knowledge sharing.  The AHCA also provides a single forum for the presentation and discussion of issues and provides a conduit between members, other industry associations, governments and community groups. 

NATIONAL ASBESTOS AWARENESS MONTH 2021 – Marking 10 years campaigning in the prevention of asbestos-related diseases

2021 marks 10 years as Australia’s longest-running, multi-award winning annual Asbestos Awareness campaign and in providing world-first information and resources on how to manage asbestos safely at Since 2011, the campaign has won multiple peer-reviewed awards both nationally and internationally and has been acknowledged in medical journals as a leading initiative in the fight to prevent asbestos-related diseases. 

The 2021 National Asbestos Awareness Month campaign is being conducted wholly in a pro-bono capacity.

Funding for the campaign ceased in 2018 while funding to keep the website live concluded in January 2019. Given the significance of the campaign and the website, Insight Communications (campaign creators and directors) have managed to keep the website live with the support of web developers, I-NEX and creative director, Gemma Waite of Moth Creative. 

ASBESTOSAWARENESS.COM.AU is Australia’s leading, most comprehensive trusted source of asbestos information dedicated to educating Australians about the dangers of asbestos with a specific focus on homeowners, renovators, tradies, commercial property managers and the owners and managers of regional properties where naturally occurring asbestos can be found.