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Australia - Final Regulatory Action
Chrysotile (white asbestos) CAS number:
Date circular:

Chemical name: Chrysotile asbestos

Final regulatory action has been taken for the category: Industrial

Final regulatory action: The chemical is Severely Restricted

Use or uses prohibited by the final regulatory action:

All new uses of chrysotile asbestos and goods containing chrysotile asbestos are banned in Australia from 31 December 2003 including the replacement of chrysotile asbestos products when replacement is necessary. It is illegal under the laws of each state and territory to store, sell, install or use any products containing chrysotile asbestos.

Use or uses that remain allowed:

There are a few exemptions to the ban but these are restricted in scope and operate for a limited time. They only apply where there are much greater risks to safety if asbestos is not used, or there is no non-asbestos alternatives available.
They include the following:
Exemption 1Compressed asbestos fibre gaskets for use with saturated steam, superheated steam, or with substances, which are classified as dangerous goods, including corrosive or flammable and very toxic or toxic. Where compressed asbestos fibre gaskets are to be used with chlorine, the exemption applies for plants used in liquid chlorine service with design process conditions of -45 degrees Celsius and 1500 kPa pressure.
Exemption until 31 December 2004 and, for use with chlorine, 31 December 2006
Exemption 2Any product consisting of a mixture of asbestos with a phenol formaldehyde resin or with a cresylic formaldehyde resin used in:
vanes for rotary vacuum pumps:
vanes for rotary compressors:
split face seals of at least 150 millimetres in diameter used to prevent leakage of water from cooling water pumps in fossil fuel electricity generating stations.
Exemption until 31 December 2007
Exemption 3 Diaphragms for use in electrolytic cells in existing electrolysis plants for chlor-alkali manufacture
Exemption until 31 December 2006
Exemption 4For the Australian Defence Organisation to use chrysotile parts and components which the ADO considers to be mission-critical and where there is no known suitable non-chrysotile alternative. This exemption will be regulated in detail by the Safety Rehabilitation Compensation Commission.
Exemption until 31 December 2007

The final regulatory action was based on a risk or hazard evaluation: Yes

Summary of the final regulatory action:

Use of amphibole forms of asbestos has been severely restricted in Australia as notified to the PIC Secretariat in November 2000. The final regulatory action described here is specifically for chrysotile. It also consolidates existing prohibitions on crocidolite (blue) and amosite (brown) asbestos into the instrument prohibiting the use of chrysotile asbestos.
Chrysotile is not currently mined in Australia and is imported into the country. From 31 December 2003 all new uses of chrysotile asbestos and material containing chrysotile asbestos is banned in all Australian workplaces, including the replacement of chrysotile asbestos products when replacement is necessary. The prohibition takes effect simultaneously in each Australian state and territory.
Under the import and export controls, the importation and exportation of asbestos and goods containing asbestos is prohibited unless:
an exemption has been issued by the relevant Australian Government, State or Territory Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) agency
a permission has been issued by the Australian Government Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
or the goods are exempt from the scope of the regulation.
This control has been established to assist in the enforcement of the Australian Government health and safety (OHS) restrictions on the use, transport and storage of asbestos compounds.
The importation controls do not extend to goods that are in situ. For example, if a motor vehicle is imported with a gasket that contains asbestos, it is not proposed that the vehicle would be a prohibited import.

The reasons for the final regulatory action were relevant to: Human health

Summary of known hazards and risks to human health:

Human exposure to chrysotile is associated with an excess risk of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. In most groups of workers, lung cancer is the predominant cause of death related to chrysotile exposure. There is evidence to show that fibre size may influence the degree of hazard.
The Australian Mesothelioma Register (the Register) published by NOHSC, receives notifications of cases of mesothelioma. The Register includes past employment history and is used to study occupational exposure to asbestos including chrysotile, given industry and occupation, with the view to improve efficiency in monitoring mesothelioma.
Long term data from the Register indicate that:
the incidence rates of malignant mesothelioma have been increasing in Australia since 1965. It is believed that these high rates of mesothelioma are related to the extensive use and production of asbestos in previous decades.
mesothelioma incidence rates are higher in males than in females, possibly because of a higher exposure in male-dominated industries that produced or used asbestos (e.g. construction and manufacturing).
The potential for public exposure is during the transport, storage and emissions from manufacture and from end-use of products. Automotive applications are likely to be the major source of public exposure to asbestos dusts and a portion of the end-use products containing chrysotile may be sold directly to the public, particularly automotive friction products and gaskets.
Home mechanics have little if any personal protective equipment to wear when replacing worn brake pads and shoes, clutch plates or engine gaskets and during the changing of these products significant exposure is possible. The generation of chrysotile dusts at busy traffic intersections, by braking vehicles is also a known source of public exposure.
The recommendation from the NICNAS PEC 9 report was chrysotile is a known human carcinogen, and progress towards a phase out of this material is supported in favour of using less hazardous materials, where this material does not introduce greater risks through the performance of substitute materials.

Expected effect of the final regulatory action in relation to human health:

The severe restrictions on the use of chrysotile will remove almost all human exposure thereby minimising the risks to the health of workers and consumers.

Date of entry into force of the final regulatory action: 31/12/2003