News - Oct 18, 2022 Tuvalu to Trial New Asbestos Analysing Technology

Due to COVID-related border closures in the Pacific, we have to re-think ways to implement projects.  For the past two years, it has not been possible for specialist consultants to travel to countries to complete specialist work, such as testing for asbestos.  Instead of putting projects on hold, the Tuvalu Department of Waste and PacWastePlus have been exploring alternate ways to achieve the outcomes sought from the PacWastePlus investment.

“The goal of our investment into asbestos is to complete an assessment to identify the location and quantity of the Asbestos on all Tuvalu’s nine islands so we can make a plan for its removal, ultimately cleaning Tuvalu from asbestos,” says Tuvalu’s Director of Waste Mr. Epu Falega, “this was always going to be a challenging undertaking involving chartering of a vessel for an asbestos expert to travel around our outer islands collecting samples, but with borders being closed and without expertise in country to complete this work, it has made it impossible.  Luckily PacWastePlus have identified new simple-to-use technology that gives results in 10 seconds, we will pilot this technology to ensure it is accurate and fit for use in the Pacific context.  If the pilot is successful, and with sufficient training, it will enable our department to identify asbestos safely and accurately ourselves.”

At the 2022 Asbestos Safety and Management Conference, co-hosted by Blue Mountains City Council and the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, PacWastePlus Project Manager Mr. Bradley Nolan identified technology called microPHAZIR AS Asbestos Analyzer.  Designed for nontechnical users, Mr. Nolan considered this new technology may be an option for the Pacific to analyse the presence of asbestos without relying on complex sampling methodologies and laboratory testing.

Tuvalu Department of Waste and PacWastePlus are designing a programme to pilot this technology and train Department of Waste and Customs officers in its use.

The microPHAZIR AS Analyzer utilises near-infrared spectroscopy enables in-field, rapid screening and identification of all six types of regulated asbestos fibers—chrysotile, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, actinolite, and amosite—within seconds.

“We are excited to pilot this equipment on behalf of the Pacific”, Director Falega concludes.