Health & Safety Matters: Asbestos in Bunsen Burner Wire Gauzes
You may have recently read in the media that some of the wire gauzes that are used with Bunsen burners asbestos have been found to contain asbestos. This is present in the white, ceramic material that is usually found in the centre of the gauze. As far as is known, the problem is limited to gauzes recently supplied by two companies. CLEAPSS has suggested that the problem could have been going on longer than this and therefore more gauzes could be affected, but this has not been confirmed. Neither the DfE nor the HSE have been willing to release the names of the companies who supplied the gauzes.
Current advice is to withdraw all gauzes from use. They should be sealed in plastic bags and kept securely until it is known whether or not they are safe. The DfE has sent detailed information to all secondary schools, but it is possible that some primary schools may also have some of the gauzes. All NUT/NEU school reps, who we have email details for, have had the advice sent to them by the Leicester NUT office.
The H&S team at Leicester City Council are aware of the problem and will give assistance if asked. If you are unsure about the safety of any gauzes that you have in school, please do not use them. Ask your school management to contact the H&S team for assistance.
On a related note, the heat-proof pads on old ironing boards often contain asbestos. If you have such an ironing board in school or at home please remove it from use until it has been checked. If it does contain asbestos it needs to be disposed of safely. Don't just take it to the tip!