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Plasterboard manufacturer Boral has issued a warning to customers that some of their fire-rated plasterboard products may be contaminated with asbestos.

The contamination affects fire-rated plasterboards containing vermiculite imported from China and was discovered in routine testing.

The company has told builders to quarantine any Boral fire-rated plasterboard products pending further advice.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) national construction secretary, Dave Noonan, said workers using Boral board need to demand the company inform them whether the products they are using are asbestos free.

“The company says the issue only affects its fire-rated plasterboard and that the level is 0.1 per cent of the three per cent vermiculite put into the board,” Noonan said.

“Yet we know there is no safe level of asbestos exposure so construction businesses must take immediate steps to quarantine potentially contaminated products and ensure workers and customers are safe.

“The CFMEU will engage with the company to eliminate the risk of exposure from factories, distribution centres and construction sites.”

Noonan said this latest asbestos contamination issue confirms the CFMEU’s repeated warnings that imported building products, particularly those from China, may not be safe.

“We have seen too many instances of building supplies that are manufactured or sourced in poorly regulated markets like China failing basic safety requirements or exposing workers or end customers to unnecessary risk,” he said.

Boral has stopped using the Chinese-sourced vermiculite and will switch to another source and is arranging for the safe removal of all unused Chinese-sourced vermiculite from their facilities at Camellia, Port Melbourne, and Pinkenba, and is testing all finished products made using vermiculite as an ingredient.

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