Environmental Health

For more information, see Environmental Health


Final component of ACT Asbestos Health Study released (21 June 2017)

Data Linkage Study on the Risk of Mesothelioma and Other Cancers in Residents of Affected Residential Properties in the ACT

The purpose of the study, commissioned by the ACT Government, was to gain a better understanding of the health risks associated with living in a house insulated with “Mr Fluffy” loose-fill asbestos, which was installed in more than 1000 Canberra homes in the 1960s and 1970s.

The fourth part of the study links a number of data sets to estimate the risk of developing mesothelioma in current and former residents of affected houses compared with the general population.

More information

For a copy of the report, please visit:

For more information about asbestos, please visit:

If you have any asbestos related health concerns, please contact your GP who can provide an assessment of individual circumstances and exposure risks.

About Asbestos

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring mineral fibres that were used extensively in many products due to their strength, insulating features and resistance to fire. The most common asbestos types used in Australia were chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos).

Chrysotile was used until 2003 in products such as brake linings, paint and insulation. Amosite and crocidolite were used until the mid-1980s, most commonly in building materials (e.g. asbestos cement products, also known as 'fibro' and 'AC’ sheeting). During the 1960s and 1970s, pure loose-fill asbestos was sold by local company, Mr Fluffy, and pumped directly into roof spaces as ceiling insulation.

Asbestos fact sheet (October 2014)

Health information for households with Mr Fluffy asbestos insulation (October 2014) 


Composting Toilets

This guideline sets out the minimum requirements for approval by ACT Health for installation of Waterless Composting Toilets, also known as humus closets and biological toilets, which treat human excreta and domestic organic matter from single domestic dwellings.

Approval of Waterless Composting Toilets in Domestic Premises information sheet

Death Cap Mushrooms

Wild mushrooms can kill you.Amanita Phalloides

The Death Cap mushroom (Amanita Phalloides) is a deadly poisonous fungus. They often grow near established oak trees, and are found when there is warm, wet weather. In Canberra this usually occurs in autumn but there is no specific mushroom season. There have been multiple incidents and fatalities associated with Death Cap mushrooms.

It can be extremely difficult for even experienced collectors to distinguish Death Cap mushrooms from an edible mushroom. People should not pick or eat wild mushrooms, and should talk to their families, friends and neighbours about the dangers of Death Cap mushrooms. Cooking Death Cap mushrooms does not make them safe.


Symptoms of Death Cap mushroom poisoning generally occur 6–24 hours or more after ingestion of mushrooms and include stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Symptoms may subside for 1–2 days giving a false impression of recovery. However, by this stage the toxin will have already caused serious liver damage. Liver failure and death may occur.

Medical Treatment

Anyone who suspects that they might have eaten Death Cap mushrooms should seek urgent medical attention at a hospital emergency department. Where possible take a whole mushroom sample for identification. The sooner the treatment begins, the better the chances of survival.

Further information and assistance if poisoning is suspected can be sought by calling the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).

Do not pick or eat any wild mushrooms.

Death Cap Mushrooms Information Sheet (Nov 2016)

Further information

For further information or to report the location of Death Cap mushrooms contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81.



Keeping Poultry

See the Keeping Poultry in the ACT fact sheet below.

Keeping Poultry in the ACT fact sheet

Lead Exposure

Lead is a naturally occurring metal.

People can be exposed to lead in the environment through food, drinking water, dust, soil and some consumer products, including lead containing paint, some glazed pottery, fishing sinkers and toys, and products manufactured overseas.

Lead can affect anybody, but children under five years of age are at greater risk because they tend to put their hands on objects into their mouths; they absorb more ingested lead than adults; and their brains are still at developing stage so they are more sensitive to the effects of lead.

The average blood lead level among Australians is estimated to be less than 5 micrograms per decilitre. A blood level greater than 5 micrograms per decilitre suggests exposure to lead at a level that is above what is considered the average ‘background’ exposure in Australia.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommends blood lead level testing in individuals if there is a reason to suspect they have swallowed or breathed lead from a particular source (more than the very small amounts that exist in most people’s everyday environments); or if they have unexplained health problems that could be due to lead.

If you suspect that you or your child has been exposed to lead, see your doctor.

For more information visit https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/health-topics/lead-blood-levels

Managing Smoke Drift in Multi-Unit Developments

Smoke drift in multi-unit developments can be a complex issue when considering the both the personal liberties of smokers and the public health rights of other residents. People living in multi-unit settings share common space and infrastructure and as a consequence, rules apply that seek to balance the interests of all residents.

Managing Smoke Drift in Multi-Unit Developments Fact Sheet (PDF)


Moulds are a type of fungi that grows best in damp and poorly ventilated areas.

Mould can be found in all environments including outside. Mould may look like fuzz, or discoloration or a stain on material like wood.

About mould

Spores are the microscopic ‘seeds’ which fungi, including moulds release into the environment.

They are sufficiently small that they can be suspended in air and be widely distributed. Spores are present in all environments, including outdoors.

Provision of toilets at public events

This fact sheet provides advice on the provision of toilet facilities at public events.

Provision of toilets at public events

Smoke-free Outdoor Eating and Drinking Areas

All outdoor eating and drinking areas across the ACT became smoke-free on 9 December 2010 under the Smoke-Free Public Places Act 2003 (the Act).

An outdoor eating and drinking area is a public place where tables and chairs are provided for customers to consume food purchased from an on-site service such as a restaurant, café, food van or take-away store.

All liquor licensed outdoor areas at venues across Canberra are classified as outdoor eating and drinking areas under the Act, meaning they are also smoke-free. Certain liquor licensed venues such as pubs, clubs, taverns and bars may, however, choose to establish outdoor smoking areas for their patrons.

These areas, called Designated Outdoor Smoking Areas (DOSAs), are designed to allow people who wish to smoke to take their drink outside while they have a cigarette before returning to their friends in non-smoking areas. DOSAs are subject to stringent rules such as no food or drink service and no eating.

Smoking is not banned on footpaths and other outdoor public spaces adjacent to outdoor eating and drinking areas. If smoke from adjacent public spaces drifts into an outdoor eating and drinking area, patrons may wish to ask the proprietor of the establishment to request, as a courtesy, that the smokers move further away. However, there is no legal requirement that smokers comply with the request.

The ACT currently has one of the lowest smoking rates in Australia. Education and awareness about the harm of environmental tobacco smoke continues to grow within the community.

Further information on smoke-free areas including frequently asked questions can be found below or at Tobacco licensing and smoking in public places​ (Access Canberra)



For more information on smoke-free laws and products to assist you or your business, visit our Tobacco Control and Smoke-free Environments page.