Australia has recalled some 13,000 Polaris-brand quad bikes that were tested in the U.S. and found to contain parts that were manufactured using asbestos.
These included brake pads, brake shoes, washers, and gaskets.
The 12 models of the popular Polaris quads in question were manufactured between the years 2001 and 2017 and are designed to be suitable for riders ages six and up, reported a story by the Australian Broadcast Company (ABC).
There is no explanation as to why the third-party U.S. testing was ordered, but officials say the bikes can still be used but not sold or serviced.
The risk is more to the service mechanic than to the rider, officials explained.
“It’s an extremely low probability that those fibres could’ve been in the air and could’ve damaged the operator of the vehicle or anybody nearby to them,” noted a statement issued by Polaris Australia country manager, Alan Collins.
“We’ve had similar testing also completed in relation to the technicians who may have serviced or repaired these vehicles over time, or also farmers that may do on farm self-servicing … and the testing will continue but the testing that’s been completed has come back as an extremely low hazard,” Collins added.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) acting chair, Delia Rickard, told ABC that the recalled bikes should only be repaired by qualified individuals who are using the proper safety precautions for working with asbestos materials.
Furthermore, any asbestos brake pads or other items removed from the bikes must be disposed of at a licensed facility that accepts toxic waste, she pointed out.
In the meantime, Mr. Collins stated that he was unaware of the root of the asbestos problem and was unsure of how it went unnoticed for such a long time.
He noted that Polaris sources components from around the world but couldn’t say from where the asbestos-containing materials came. (Sadly, many countries still manufacture and sell asbestos-containing auto parts.)
“We are working very diligently at the moment to understand how this has happened and … to ensure there can be no repeats of it in future,” he explained.
“But we are instructing our dealers not to sell the products and we’re also asking our dealers not to service the products. In the near future, we will release some very specific instructions to our dealers about how they can go about removing the affected part safely.”
There is no indication that Polaris quads sold in the United States contain any asbestos parts.
In past decades, asbestos hazards were very real for mechanics as many friction items (brakes, clutches, etc.) were manufactured using asbestos.
Mechanics are still at risk when working on old automobiles or on cars that contain parts manufactured in countries that still use asbestos.
Care should always be taken when working on parts of unknown origin so as to avoid asbestos inhalation.