Asbestos in Bunsen Burner Gauze Mats

The Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities Imported Materials with Asbestos Working Group has issued this safety alert regarding asbestos found in Bunsen Burner Gauze Mats that have been imported into Australia (click here for full Safety Alert).

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.

Figure 1 - Gauze mat with ceramic centre                                                Figure 2 - Gauze mat sitting on tripod over Bunsen burner                                

Figure 1: Gauze mat with ceramic centre               Figure 2: Gauze mat sitting on tripod over Bunsen burner

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.

Risk from using asbestos-containing gauze mats

Even if a mat contains asbestos, the risk from normal use will generally be extremely low because 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.

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 your supplier can't immediately confirm this, you or your supplier 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. Please also see the full Safety Alert here.

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.

If you're unsure, get advice

If you’re unsure about what to do, contact your State/Territory/Commonwealth workplace health and safety regulator.

State/ Territory C'wealth

Regulator

Contact details

Website

ACT

Asbestos Awareness

ACT Government

13 22 81 www.asbestos.act.gov.au/
C'wealth Comcare 1300 366 979 www.comcare.gov.au/asbestos
NSW SafeWork NSW 13 10 50 www.safework.nsw.gov.au
NT WorkSafe NT asbestos 1800 019 115 www.asbestos.nt.gov.au
QLD Workplace Health and Safety Qld 1300 362 128 www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/
QLD Qld Gov Asbestos page 13 74 68 www.deir.qld.gov.au/asbestos/
SA SafeWork SA 1300 365 255 www.safework.sa.gov.au/
SA SA Gov Asbestos page 1300 365 255 www.asbestos.sa.gov.au/
TAS WorkSafe TAS 1300 366 322 www.worksafe.tas.gov.au
VIC WorkSafe VIC 1800 136 089 www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/
VIC Asbestos page 1800 136 089 www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/
WA WorkSafe WA 1300 307 877 www.commerce.wa.gov.au/WorkSafe/