Australian asbestos ban difficult due to Chinese imports

25 Aug 2017 by Sarah Mahan under News

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAL AAAAJGE2Mzk2MjQwLWMyNDMtNGMxYi1iN2FhLTFhNmYwOTAxNGE3NQ 100x100 Australian asbestos ban difficult due to Chinese importsAsbestos is widely considered to be a group of six carcinogenic silicate minerals: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite. But what happens when countries do not agree on the list? Enforcement is more difficult.

For example, Australia has banned all forms of asbestos for more than a decade, requiring importers to document that their products do not contain asbestos. However, does not consider chrysotile, the most common type, to be a form of asbestos, meaning ’s documentation doesn’t “hold any water,” Peter Tighe, chief executive of Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, told The Daily Telegraph. “The problem is if a product comes out of , and still mines asbestos, you’re going to see a degree of contamination,” he explained. “In cement board, they still use asbestos in the mix. If we don’t control this, we’ll end up with a second legacy of asbestos — and we won’t know where it is.”

According to the news source, the Australian Border Force, charged with enforcing the country’s asbestos importing regulations, identified 8,643 shipments at high risk to contain asbestos last year, and examined 761 shipments, seizing 64 of those searched. Last year, Border Force issued 20 fines for asbestos importing violations. Three were paid by Chinese building products giant Yuanda, “which supplied asbestos-tainted roof panels to the $1.2 billion children’s hospital in Perth and contaminated gaskets to the Queensland government’s $650 million ‘tower of power’ executive building,” The Daily Telegraph reports.

Tighe warned renovators and contractors to test all products bought online from for asbestos. “I know it’s sexy to catch drug smugglers and tobacco smugglers but this is just as important … asbestos can cause deaths too,” he said. “This could be the tip of the iceberg, what we’re finding. How much are we missing? Products are definitely coming in here.”

 

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