Transporting and packaging asbestos samples

If you are importing asbestos by air, there are some important regulations that you must be aware of.

Transporting asbestos samples by air

Australian and international regulations state that if you are transporting asbestos samples by air, either in checked luggage or as part of carry-on luggage, it is allowed only if the asbestos is completely contained and there is no release of asbestos fibres.

This means that samples brought into Australia for testing must be packaged in good quality materials that are strong enough to withstand the shocks and loadings during air travel. This includes removal from pallets, as well as manual and mechanical handling.

This applies to materials such as samples of:

  • building sheet
  • pipe lagging
  • floor tiles
  • cements
  • plastics

Staff accompanying these samples will need to be trained in how to safely handle asbestos. They will also need to be aware of the regulations about bringing asbestos onto airplanes.

Packaging asbestos samples for air travel

Although there is no specific package that must be used, you must ensure that samples are packaged in good quality containers that are strong enough to withstand the normal pressures experienced during flying.

It is advised that you follow the below steps to package asbestos safely for air travel:

  1. Seal samples in double bags of polythene that are a minimum of 200 microns thick.
  2. Label each sample with an identifying number and a warning.
  3. Place any samples into a small, sturdy, airtight container and display the below message and icons -

‘Danger: may contain asbestos - May cause cancer. Causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure’.

 Danger symbol 1    Danger symbol 2

This is so that it is clear to anyone with authority to open the box (for example customs or postal officers) that the box may contain asbestos.

  1. Finally, the samples should be placed into a second, unlabeled outer box.

Note: samples must always be transported with a copy of your permit to import asbestos samples.

If you follow these packaging requirements, there is no requirement to declare asbestos samples to airlines.

Asbestos samples in checked luggage

If asbestos samples are being checked in as airline luggage, it is important to remember that they will be kept on a different part of the airplane to you. The packaging of your samples must be able to withstand:

  • Temperature changes, usually between -40 and 50 degrees Celsius. Some plastics degrade or can become brittle at these temperatures.
  • Pressure and humidity changes. These changes may cause airtight bags to burst which could cause fibres to be released.
  • Vibrations. Seals could become loose so make sure that any seals, tapes or knots are firmly secured and able to withstand up to 8g acceleration.

For more information visit the Civil Aviation Safety Authority website or call them on 131 757.