Illegal Chinese asbestos imports a growing problem

The wind-down of manufacturing and illegal imports are among reasons for the increasing problem of asbestos in construction materials.

The ABC reports that 64 sites were known to contain concrete fibre sheeting containing the carcinogenic material.

The national authority for monitoring and reporting, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, has said the “wind-down” of local manufacturing and illegal imports were seeing the problem grow “exponentially”.

"What we've really got now is really an indication which could be the tip of the iceberg," ASEA CEO Peter Tighe told the ABC.

Importing products containing asbestos had been banned for over a decade, but some still slipped the net.

The Australian Border Force said that all cargo seen as “high-risk” was inspected physically, and it had a watch-list of over 40 importers, products and manufacturers.

According to the department, its commissioner visited China last year and met with “a number of senior Chinese customs officials”.

"The ABF continues to engage with relevant Chinese agencies to enhance cooperation on border issues of shared concern, including the importation of asbestos,” a spokesman said.