Jewellery, Clothes, Hairdryers- Fashion can be dangerous too!
The use of all forms of asbestos has been banned in Australia since the end of 2003. This means that the import, manufacture, supply, sale and use or reuse of asbestos and asbestos-containing products is no longer permitted.
Since the ban in Australia, the finding of Asbestos in raw and polished crystals, stones and pendants first arose in 2012 when asbestos was detected in stones and pendants sold by a Gold Coast retailer. At the time, the stones were often marketed under the name ‘chrysotile’, and ‘serpentine’. This trend in jewellery type (whether containing asbestos or not) was commonly sold throughout Australia particularly in ‘alternative crystal’ type stores and /or markets.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland were notified and intervened. Once there was confirmation that the stones contained asbestos, the suppliers agreed to stop supplying the contaminated asbestos products. While this type of jewellery may not result in dangerous exposure for those who wear them, they could result in exposure if they break. ( and children are often mesmerised by the look of these stones and like playing with them!)
It would be smart to check or possibly discard old jewellery such as these pendants or gemstones if you purchased them before 2003, particularly if they were imported.
Raw asbestos was spun and woven into textile clothing and garments at the beginning of the 1900’s and continued to be for many decades. The fireproof component of asbestos garments made them great for use as protective clothing, such as uniforms for fire fighters, aprons, gloves, oven mitts and coats commonly worn by factory workers- all to protect the person from any extreme temperatures in the work place.
What many people were not aware of, was that their “protective” clothing could have emitted airborne fibres, exposing them to the dangers of asbestos inhalation.
All of these have been banned in Australia since 2003, however there may be many items such as the following, lurking in old cupboards, on farms, at markets – with most people not aware that these type of clothing garments historically may have had asbestos.
- Fire blankets
- Firefighter’s clothing
- Glassblower mitts
- Oven mitts
- Protective clothing for metal and foundry workers
- Welder’s blankets
Most of these clothing items can be cut or torn, potentially exposing the asbestos fibres.
Be careful at second hand shops or markets and try to identify the age of the item and the likelihood of it containing asbestos fibres.
Many older hair dryers have been proven to contain asbestos insulation, and there is the possibility some cheap overseas-made hair dryers still use asbestos. The material was used because the device’s heating element was a fire hazard and asbestos was a cheap and a readily available flame retardant.
Australia’s border control officers work tirelessly in trying to prevent any products containing asbestos being imported into our shores. Be aware though, if you see a gorgeous-looking “vintage” hairdryer on sale at a second hand market, think twice before purchasing it.
Please call AMAA on 1800 017 758 for information on how to dispose of such items safely and correctly.