Asbestos found across Sydney

Inhaling asbestos particles can cause life-threatening diseases, including cancer.
asbestos found sydney

Asbestos has been found in several locations across Sydney in recent weeks, including in many parks and a school in the city’s south-west.

Inhaling asbestos particles can cause life-threatening diseases, including cancer.

The toxic material has been discovered in garden mulch, which is put on top of soil.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the multiple discoveries were “completely unacceptable”.

Authorities are investigating how asbestos ended up in the mulch.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found in soil or rocks. It has previously been used in home insulation.

When broken up, asbestos can release toxic particles into the air.

There are two different types of materials containing asbestos: friable and non-friable.

Non-friable materials include asbestos mixed with other substances like cement, and won’t release asbestos fibres unless damaged. However, friable materials can easily crumble to release asbestos.

Asbestos found in Sydney parks

Last month, asbestos was found in a newly opened park above the Rozelle interchange in Sydney’s inner west.

Garden mulch used around the children’s playground was found to contain traces of non-friable asbestos. The parkland has now been closed off to the public.

Inner West Council urged the NSW Government to “throw the book” at whoever is found responsible for the asbestos ending up at the park.

The City of Sydney Council confirmed recent testing identified asbestos in several parks. It said it’s still conducting tests at a further 30 sites where contaminated mulch is suspected.

Non-friable asbestos was found in mulch at Victoria and Belmore Park, both near Sydney’s CBD. Mulched areas have been closed off to the public.

Friable (more dangerous) asbestos was discovered at Harmony Park in Sydney’s inner east. The entire park has been closed while cleaning to remove the toxic material continues.

School discovery

Asbestos has also been discovered at a primary school in Sydney’s south west.

NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA) said Liverpool West Public school would shut for two days as it conducted testing for mulch found at the school.

EPA Chief Executive Tony Chappel said finding asbestos at a school was “extremely concerning for families”.

More than 100 sites are undergoing asbestos testing, EPA said.

NSW government

NSW Premier Chris Minns said it’s “not good enough” that asbestos is “disrupting the life of tens of thousands of people that live in Sydney”.

“We cannot have a situation where major public facilities like this and schools and parks have asbestos in them,” Minns said.

He added the EPA is considering a possible mass recall of the mulch, as it investigates whether the product was distributed anywhere else.

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