The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency has issued a safety alert about acetylene cylinders with asbestos supplied by Chinese company Xinxiang Safety Cylinder. The material used has been described as Calcium Silicate and the Australian company in receipt of the goods was advised by the Chinese based supplier that the cylinders were asbestos-free.
According to the Asbestos Eradication Agency, acetylene is a colourless gas, which is widely used as a fuel and a chemical building block. It is the hottest of all fuel gases and is used for a number of applications including welding, plastics and acrylic acid derivatives and portable lighting. An acetylene cylinder has a different design from most other gas cylinders and consists of a steel shell containing a porous mass, with the locations of possible asbestos being located at the neck and base of the cylinder. The acetylene gas in the cylinder is dissolved in acetone, which is absorbed by the porous mass. Like other compressed industrial gases the Agency says, acetylene can be hazardous to the user and for those nearby if not used correctly.
Asbestos has been a prohibited product in Australia since December 2003, however in many countries it is still used in manufactured products.
The Asbestos Eradication Agency says that certification provided to importers from overseas manufacturers of goods that are asbestos-free have sometimes found to be wrong for the purposes of our regulations.
“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, except under very limited circumstances,” says the Agency.
“Local standards in some supplier countries may classify goods ‘asbestos-free’ where they meet a certain low level of asbestos content. In Australia, a product found with any level of asbestos is prohibited for import or use.”
“Available information indicates that these cylinders do not pose a measurable health risk through normal use and consumers should not perform any maintenance, repairs or modifications on these cylinders that may disturb the parts containing asbestos.”
“If you believe you have one of these cylinders then you should contact the supplier you received it from to arrange to have it returned. A safety data sheet on acetylene is available online.”
Image sourced from Flickr cc: J.D Page