Asbestos Warning for Beekeepers
As you read this short but current story, please keep in mind that we do not know which brands of bee smokers contain asbestos and which do not. Our blog photo today is of a bee smoker, but we are not implying that this model does or does not contain asbestos, because we do not know. Use due diligence before buying a bee smoker.
Australian beekeepers and importers of beekeeping equipment have received warnings that toxic asbestos fibers have been found in many imported bee smokers.
In Australia, according to a Border Force official, asbestos is considered Tier 1 and is a prohibited import in keeping with Customs Regulation 2015. The reason for this is that when asbestos fibers are breathed into human lungs, this causes lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.
International sellers regularly advertise their battery-powered electric or manual smokers on online shopping websites. The public is, of course, unaware and unsuspecting that such deadly devastation awaits in the purchased item.
The border official stated that if asbestos is unlawfully imported in products, it can make you liable for staggering fines of up to $222,000 or 3x the value of the imported goods, whichever is greater. You can also be imprisoned for up to 5 years.
This unrelated 3:38-minute video by Kamon Reynolds - Tennessee's Bees shows how to make sweet smelling smoke in your bee smoker:
The hand-operated model needs manual force by squeezing a bellows that is made of woven cloth-like material, and there is often a high dose of asbestos in there. The electric model did not escape, either. An insulation board between the canister and the handle is often made of bonded asbestos.
Australian apiarists are being told to be cautious when buying bee smokers from international suppliers, whether it is for them or for resale. Some components of the bee smokers come from countries where there isn’t a ban on asbestos.
Australian Border Force detected 39 asbestos-contaminated bee smokers between September 2021 and January 31 this year, thirteen of which were for businesses and 26 were for individuals.
The border force official instructs Australians to seek accredited assurances from suppliers and importers before bringing these products into the country. More info can be found at the ABF asbestos information page.
It should be noted that a declaration of “no asbestos” from the overseas supplier is insufficient evidence on its own. If sufficient assurance is not provided, importers will face delays and costs may be incurred when the goods are held at the border for sampling and testing by professionals.
If bee smokers are found to contain asbestos at any level, they will be seized for disposal. The cost that may be incurred by non-commercial importers could be prohibitive, and far outweigh the cost paid for the bee smoker in the first place.
Although this story is about Australia, there is a good chance that people in other countries also purchase bee smokers and possibly from the same international supplier, so this is a call for everyone to be alert to this health hazard.
To see images of such a bee smoker please click here.
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