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How to manage asbestos

The risk of contracting an asbestos-related disease depends on the asbestos type, concentration of fibres in the dust, duration of exposure, susceptibility of the individual and time since the first exposure.

Most countries require that people are not exposed to any airborne asbestos fibres, as there is no safe level of exposure. However, countries have different views on what limits to set for occupational exposure values for both eight-hour and short-term (15 minutes) exposure periods.

The asbestos limit values table shows action should be taken to prevent or control asbestos exposure if a limit is reached. In Australia, for example, this is when 0.1 fibres are detected per CM3 of air averaged over a specified period (eight hours). It's important to state that any potential asbestos exposure should, at first, be prevented.

In buildings, in the United Kingdom for example, there must be an asbestos management plan in place if the building that workers are in or going to be carrying out work on is older than the year 2000. 

Asbestos limit values (source: German Social Accident Insurance website)
Country Limit value – eight hours Limit value – short term
  ppm mg/m³ ppm mg/m³
Australia   0,1 fibres per cm³    
Austria   0,25 fibres per cm³   1 fibres per cm³
Belgium   0,1 fibres per cm³    
Canada – Ontario   0,1 fibres per cm³    
Canada – Quebec   1 fibres per cm³   5 fibres per cm³
    0,2 fibres per cm³   1 fibres per cm³
Denmark   0,003 fibres per cm³   0,3 fibres per cm³
European Union   0,1 fibres per cm³    
Finland   0,1 fibres per cm³    
France   0,1 fibres per cm³    
    0,01 fibres per cm³    
Germany (AGS)   0,01 fibres per cm³   0,8 fibres per cm³
    0,01 fibres per cm³    
Hungary   0,01 fibres per cm³    
Ireland   0,01 fibres per cm³    
Israel   0,02 fibres per cm³    
Italy   0,1 fibres per cm³    
Japan (MHLW)   0,15 fibres per cm³    
Japan (JSOH)   0,03 fibres per cm³    
    0,003 fibres per cm³    
Latvia   0,1 fibres per cm³    
New Zealand   0,1 fibres per cm³   0,6 fibres per cm³
Norway   0,1 fibres per cm³    
People's Republic of China   0,8 fibres per cm³    
Singapore   0,1 fibres per cm³    
South Africa Mining   0,2 fibres per cm³    
South Korea   0,17 fibres per cm³    
Spain   0,1 fibres per cm³    
Sweden   0,1 fibres per cm³    
Switzerland   0,01 fibres per cm³    
The Netherlands   0,01 fibres per cm³    
USA – NIOSH   0,1 fibres per cm³    
United Kingdom   0,1 fibres per cm³   0,6 fibres per cm³ (10 minutes)