26 September 2023

ABF stings beekeepers for using asbestos

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The Australian Border Force (ABF) has issued warnings to beekeepers that asbestos is being found in significant numbers of imported bee smokers, making them illegal to be brought into the country.

In a statement, the ABF said unlawfully importing products with asbestos could carry significant penalties, such as fines of up to $222,000 or three times the value of the goods, whichever was greater, and/or imprisonment for up to five years.

“Battery-powered electric and manual smokers are commonly advertised to the Australian market in online shopping websites by international sellers,” it said.

The ABF said, however, both imported manual and electric models were often found to contain asbestos.

“Professional and amateur apiarists should be wary when purchasing bee smokers from suppliers outside Australia,” it said.

“Whether purchasing for their own use or intending to sell in Australia, importers should exercise caution and check with the supplier as to exactly what the material is, as some parts used to construct the smokers are coming from countries with no asbestos bans in place.”

The ABF said between September 2021 and 31 January it had detected 39 imports of bee smokers at the Australian border which were at risk of containing asbestos and, of these, 13 were identified for business entities with the remaining 26 in individuals’ names.

“Importers should seek accredited assurances from suppliers before importing these products into Australia,” it said.

“While the ABF understands bee pollination is essential for the health of people and the planet, asbestos is a particularly hazardous substance, one which we will actively prevent from entering the community,” the ABF said.

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