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Alert 18 - Asbestos in Bunsen Burner Gauze Mats

This alert highlights the risk of exposure to asbestos in bunsen burner gauze mats.

Background

The Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities has been made aware of concerns that asbestos-containing material may be present in some bunsen burner gauze mats commonly used in laboratories. These mats typically have a ceramic disk in the centre, and are often used with bunsen burners. Gauze mats which do not have a ceramic centre are of no risk for asbestos.

All workplace health and safety laws prohibit a range of activities including the importation, supply, sale and use of asbestos. They also set out duties to identify all asbestos present in a workplace.

Safety issues

Even if a mat contains asbestos, the risk from normal use will generally be extremely low. Free fibre release into the air will be minimal. Over time, particles and debris may break off during use or through abrasion or impact in storage. These do not represent an airborne risk.

Control measures

Stop using your mats and find out if they contain asbestos

Quarantine any gauze mats until you can confirm with your supplier that there is no asbestos-containing material in them (even though they may be labelled as 'asbestos-free'). If you can't confirm this with your supplier, you could have them tested at a NATA-accredited laboratory. (For further information on testing see ASEA’s website)

Quarantining the gauze mats while you're confirming if they contain asbestos could be as simple as putting them in a locked cabinet or container which is labelled appropriately to indicate the potential for asbestos contamination.

Dispose of mats that contain asbestos

Gauze mats confirmed to contain asbestos must be disposed of as asbestos waste in accordance with your state, territory or commonwealth workplace health and safety laws. If you are in any doubt about whether the gauze mats contain asbestos, dispose of them as if they do contain it. If you need further information on correct disposal, see the full alert link below.

Check when you buy new gauze mats

If you are buying gauze mats, ask your supplier for documentation confirming there is no asbestos (including tremolite asbestos) in the products (even though they may be labelled as 'asbestos-free'), or buy all-wire gauze mats.

Further information

If you’re unsure about what to do, contact Comcare:

Phone: 1300 366 979

Email: WHS.Help@Comcare.gov.au

This alert was developed for all jurisdictions by the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) Imported Materials and the Asbestos Working Group.

 


Page last updated: 07 Dec 2018