A recent report by the ABC has stated that there are around 40,000km of asbestos cement pipes across Australia needing to be replaced. This has sparked consumer concern over the safety of the water.
The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) has published a fact sheet on the issue which states the effects of asbestos in the water supply have been studied extensively and results show there is no elevated risk of asbestos‐related diseases due to the pipes.
WSAA said that asbestos cement pipes are present in water networks throughout Australia and the world, and the urban water industry ensures that asbestos cement pipes pose no health risk to the water supply.
WSAA notes that these findings are consistent across the World Health Organisation, the National Health and Medical Research Council Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and Department of Health.
WSAA said the risks associated with asbestos relate to airborne fibres. Fibres from pipes can become airborne when a pipe is undergoing works, decommissioning or is damaged.
However, all relevant regulations are adhered to when handling asbestos cement pipes under these circumstances, and these regulations are in accordance with state legislation and national Codes of Practice and Guidance for the management of asbestos in the occupational environment.