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Safety alert - Asbestos in mineral kits

This safety alert is to advise of the reported presence of asbestos rock samples contained in some mineral kits purchased by schools. These kits have been sold throughout Australia and continue to be available for sale online.

Some mineral kits have been found to contain asbestos under a variety of names, including serpentine, amosite, tremolite and chrysotile, occasionally referred to by the name of leucotile. Some earlier mineral kits (dating from the 1970s) produced by the former Geological Specimen Supplies company may also contain asbestos. The Lustre mineral kits may include the blue asbestos mineral crocidolite as an example of fibrous lustre.

Kits which contain any of the samples listed in Table 1 should be treated as containing asbestos or other hazardous mineral fibres and withdrawn from use.

Table 1 - Names of geological samples that are not to be purchased
  • Asbestos
  • Actinolite
  • Amphibole
  • Crocidolite (Blue asbestos/ Riebeckite)
  • Amosite (grunerite)
  • Fibrous zeolite including erionite and offretite
  • Tremolite
  • Richterite
  • Anthophyllite
  • Winchite
  • Chrysotile (leucotile/white asbestos/ chrysotile serpentine)
  • Serpentine or serpentinite - including lizardite and antigorite serpentines

Asbestos may be present in many geological samples in varying physical forms. Table 1 includes fibrous and/or friable forms of asbestos minerals and the chrysotile polymorphs (different forms) of serpentine.

Health risks associated with asbestos exposure relate to the inhalation (breathing in) of fibres. If asbestos material has not been disturbed it is unlikely to release asbestos fibres. Accordingly, any potential risk of exposure to asbestos is considered to be low.