Private schools in Western Australia have been warned about potential asbestos content in heat-proof metal mesh mats with ceramic centers, a common apparatus in science labs. This follows a recent ban on asbestos-containing ceramic mats from schools in Britain and New Zealand.

School Authorities Advised to Remove Suspicious Lab Mats

The Association of Independent Schools of WA issued a warning regarding ceramic lab mats to all private school principals and heads of science. Aside from locking the mats away, school authorities have been advised to seal cupboards until they are checked for contamination and cleaned. The warning was issued in response to incidents in Britain and New Zealand where lab mats were discovered to contain tremolite asbestos, despite being declared as asbestos-free by their suppliers.

Some of the lab mats in question were taken from a few private schools in Perth and tested positive for tremolite asbestos after being analyzed by an independent lab. Other schools have begun to check for asbestos dust in their science rooms.

The Education Department sent out a similar advisory to public school principals as a precaution, despite a current lack of evidence suggesting that WA public schools have asbestos-containing lab mats. A spokesperson for Catholic Education WA (CEWA) announced that the organization had also advised schools to avail of licensed asbestos removal services to dispose of the mats safety, clean their labs, and test the air for asbestos contamination.

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