There has been anger and concern over an extension granted to the Australian Defence Force with regards to the use of asbestos. Although the use of asbestos was banned in 2004 in Australian workplaces, a three year extension until 2007 was granted to the Australian Defence Force. However, a further extension has now been granted.

The new three year extension means that the ADF can now use equipment containing the deadly substance until 2010. Around one hundred and thirty thousand pieces of military equipment contain asbestos, which can cause a range of health problems through exposure including a form of cancer known as mesothelioma.

One official from the Asbestos Diseases Society of Victoria stated: “People will be exposed to asbestos fibres in the workplaces and we think needlessly in most cases, because there are and should be alternatives. If the commercial world can get its act together and replace all makes of car brake lighting with non-asbestos material, we think defence could have done that with there suppliers and contractors.”

He added: “There have been many cases in the defence forces and we expect there will be further exposure. We hope that doesn’t lead to any disease, but there is a possibility it will and to us that just puts civilian contractors and defence personnel at risk.”

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