Wednesday 24th of April 2024

sabotage? carelessness? idiocy?.....

In January, an Australian child innocently brought home a couple of handfuls of garden mulch from near a playground in Sydney's inner west. 

Looking at the mulch, the child's parent was horrified to spot what looked like chunks of bonded asbestos.

Their call to authorities has since revealed a contamination crisis which has now spread across the city, forcing the closure of many public parks, playgrounds and several schools.

As of Monday, 33 sites in Sydney and another in the town of Nowra had tested positive for the cancer-causing substance.

In addition to parks and schools, they include supermarkets, hospitals, housing estates and train stations.

New South Wales (NSW) officials now say there could be tainted woodchips at hundreds of locations. 


The state's government and environmental watchdog have set up a taskforce to investigate. 

The mayor of the Inner West Council - which takes in the original exposure site at Rozelle Parklands - said the situation was "beyond belief".

"As a parent whose children have been playing there myself, I understand how concerning this will be for many thousands of local people," Darcy Byrne said.

The scare has kept thousands of school students at home and forced the cancellation of a major Mardi Gras party. There was also panic after potential exposure sites were identified - but quickly cleared - at the Sydney venue for Taylor Swift's Eras Tour concert.

State officials say they are working as quickly as possible to identify and test locations of concern.

"We do understand that it is a big problem... There is no doubt that there is a failure here," NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe said.

 Assessing the danger

Health authorities have warned the public to steer clear of the contaminated areas, which have been cordoned off. 

But they have also sought to downplay the potential risk they pose.

Extended exposure to asbestos - which was once widely used in construction materials - can lead to a form of cancer called mesothelioma or the chronic lung disease asbestosis. 

Most of the asbestos found so far is "bonded", often with cement, which means it is less likely to break down and be inhaled. But one piece of the more concerning friable asbestos - which can be easily crushed into a powder - was found at a public park in suburb Surry Hills.





dog tales.....


The Conversation

 / By Chiara Palmieri


This week, disturbing news emerged about mulch containing asbestos in parks, schools and homes across New South Wales (and possibly Canberra). So far, the discussion has focused on the risks to human health.

But the incidents have prompted me to worry about the effects on dogs. Dogs love to sniff, dig, lick and roll on the ground. That means dogs in the vicinity of the mulch may have been exposed to asbestos.

I research the environmental causes of cancer in animals. Animal exposure to asbestos is deeply worrying. Long-term exposure, even to low doses, can cause a type of cancer called mesothelioma. The disease also affects humans.

Here, I outline the risks of asbestos exposure in dogs, and what to do if you're concerned.