Asbestos is a term for a group of six naturally occurring mineral fibres belonging to two groups.
- Serpentine Group – comprised of only chrysotile (white asbestos)
- Amphibole Group – comprised of amosite (brown asbestos or grey asbestos), anthophyllite, crocidolite (blue asbestos), tremolite, and actinolite
All forms of asbestos are highly toxic and carcinogenic to humans. Exposure to asbestos can cause cancer of the lung, larynx and ovary mesothelioma (a cancer of the pleural and peritoneal linings) and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).Asbestos has been used in a wide number of products due to its flexibility, tensile strength, insulation, chemical inertness and affordability.
Asbestos is still used outside Australia in many applications. The following imported goods are considered high risk for containing asbestos and ACM:
- Asbestos bitumen products used to damp proof
- Asbestos rope
- Asbestos tape
- Brake linings or blocks
- Cement flat sheeting or panels
- Cement pipes, tubes or fittings
- Cement shingles or tiles (external or ceiling)
- Clutch linings or brake disc pads
- Electrical cloth and tapes
- Electrical panel partitioning
- Fire blankets
- Fire curtains
- Fire resistant building materials
- Gaskets or seals
- Heat resistant sealing or caulking compounds
- Heating equipment
- Lagging and jointing materials
- Mastics, sealants, putties or adhesives
- Mineral samples for display or therapeutic purposes
- Mixtures containing phenol formaldehyde resin or cresylic formaldehyde resin
- Motor vehicle parts such as friction materials
- Pipe spools
- Raw materials from mining activities
- Sheet vinyl backing
- Textured paints or coatings
- Yarn and thread, cords and string, whether or not plaited
Some countries regard products to be “asbestos free” if they contain asbestos below a certain level.
AUSTRALIA HAS A ZERO TOLERANCE LEVEL for asbestos levels within manufactured goods.
It is the responsibility of importers and exporters to ensure they do not import or export prohibited goods that contain asbestos. The Australian Border Force must be assured that no asbestos is present in goods at the time of import or export.
There are a number of steps you as an importer can take to ensure your goods are asbestos free:
- Request a certificate from your overseas supplier that states that goods or materials are asbestos free
- Request evidence from overseas supplier that goods do not contain asbestos (ie testing results) OR
- Organise to have a sample of the goods tested in Australia
Source: Australian Border Force