The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been made aware that two UK laboratory supply companies have supplied schools and potentially other users with gauze mats which contain asbestos.
The metal gauze mats are designed for use over Bunsen burners.
While we assess the overall risk of exposure to be low, we have taken swift action. We have ensured that both of the supply companies concerned immediately ceased supply of the gauze mats and are overseeing arrangements to contact affected customers and provide precautionary advice on how the mats should be disposed of safely.
Any gauzes that contain asbestos should not be used, and they must be safely disposed of as asbestos waste. As a precaution, if users are unclear as to what any gauze coating is made of then it should be assumed to contain asbestos. Additional advice has been prepared to inform users as to the action they need to take (attached).
HSE are working closely with Department for Education, education departments in Scotland and Wales as well as CLEAPSS (Consortium of Local Education Authorities for the Provision of Science Services). This will help us ensure that schools, colleges, local regulators, and others who may have supplied or purchased similar products are directed to our advice. We are also investigating how these particular gauze mats came into circulation. Breaches of the restrictions on the supply of asbestos are taken very seriously by HSE.