Short Answer: Possibly. Chinese laws still allow the manufacturing of products containing asbestos. In addition, reports have shown that some Chinese products were allowed to be labeled as “asbestos-free” as long as they have less than 5% of asbestos. The best approach is to exercise caution and try to purchase from reputable companies. And know what to look for to avoid asbestos.

China Has Not Banned Asbestos

The United States, Australia, and many other countries have long standing bans on the manufacture, import, and sale of asbestos materials and most asbestos products. However, even with these restrictions, contaminated products still make their way into controlled markets. 

In one recent incident, Australian authorities detected the presence of illegal asbestos at 64 separate construction sites—all in a single state. A preliminary investigation revealed that contractors had purchased asbestos-based fiber sheeting manufactured in China. 

Asbestos-Contaminated Goods Were Traced to China

After news of the mass contamination went public, experts suggested that a significant share of Chinese imports are still fabricated, fortified, and produced with asbestos. In many cases, corporate purchasers and consumers alike are unaware that these products contain dangerous concentrations of the cancer-causing mineral. 

China, unlike many countries, still uses asbestos for a variety of purposes. Despite other countries’ restrictions, some unscrupulous Chinese companies continue to export asbestos-affected products intended for a variety of purposes. 

Asbestos in China 

China is among the world’s largest producers of asbestos, exporting the mineral everywhere from the Netherlands to Nigeria. 

While the Chinese government began restricting the production, import, and use of amphibole asbestos in 2002, it still permits the manufacture of many goods containing chrysotile asbestos. Since China does not restrict the use of asbestos to nearly the same extent as Australia and the United States, some unscrupulous China-based companies fortify their products with asbestos. Oftentimes, these products are certified and marked as “asbestos-free.” 

China’s Definition of Asbestos-Free

However, China does not have a conventional definition of “asbestos-free.” Some reports suggest that the Chinese government will certify products as “asbestos-free” as long as they have asbestos concentrations below 5%. 

Even though China’s criteria for what makes a product “asbestos-free” differs from other countries’, global authorities cannot realistically test every imported Chinese product for asbestos contamination. 

Customs Agents Cannot Find All Asbestos-Contaminated Products

Despite the best efforts of customs officials, the prevalence of Chinese manufacturing is such that, even when some illegal asbestos products are identified and confiscated, many others slip past checkpoints and into international markets. 

Unfortunately, Chinese asbestos exports are not limited to building materials. In one unusual incident, investigators found that a Chinese company was fabricating children’s crayons with asbestos. 

Asbestos-Contaminated Chinese Imports

By most estimates, China is the first or second largest exporter of industrial and consumer goods in the world. While most Chinese products are safe for use, asbestos has been found in an alarming variety of goods. 

Asbestos Has Been Found in Chinese-Manufactured Industrial Materials

Asbestos has been found in industrial materials including but not limited to: 

  • Automobiles and motorcycles 
  • Automotive parts 
  • Fabricated construction materials, such as fiber sheeting, roof panels, heating units, and textured paints 
  • Mining equipment, valves, and raw materials 

The Australian government has also detected asbestos contamination in general consumer goods, such as:

  • Makeup
  • Talcum-based products
  • Yarn and thread
  • Electrical heaters 
  • Toasters 
  • Hair dryers
  • Electrical stoves and ovens 

Even Some Children’s Products Made in China Have Tested Positive for Asbestos

Alarmingly, some Chinese imports intended for use by children have also tested positive for asbestos: 

  • Crayons 
  • Remote controlled cars 
  • Toys that contain powder or make-up combinations 

Children could be especially vulnerable to asbestos exposure, in large part because children’s toys are often regularly used and abused. 

When asbestos-contaminated toys are scraped, battered, or dismantled, they could shed microscopic asbestos fibers—fibers which, when inhaled, could cause chronic health conditions up to and including cancer.

“The overall evidence suggests there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.”

Source: National Cancer Institute (NIH) 1

The Dangers of Asbestos-Based Products 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. When it is left undisturbed, asbestos poses few hazards to human health. In fact, most asbestos-related illnesses are reported in people who have worked with or around asbestos. This includes: 

  • Construction workers
  • Miners
  • Shipbuilders 
  • General laborers 

However, health researchers like the National Cancer Institute have indicated that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.2

Construction materials and household goods that contain asbestos could be dangerous if asbestos-based parts and compounds degrade or become fragile. When asbestos is loose or easily crumbles, it is called friable. Friable asbestos presents significant risks because it is easily inhaled

If asbestos is inhaled, it can work its way into and through the respiratory system. Since asbestos is a strong and resilient mineral, the human body’s immune system cannot eradicate it. Over time, microscopic asbestos fibers could accumulate in and around the lungs. These fibers can cause serious medical problems, including: 

  • Asbestosis, a chronic lung disease caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Asbestosis symptoms could be mild or severe, with symptoms including shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and clubbed fingers and toes. 
  • Mesothelioma, a malignant cancer that could affect the lungs, heart, abdomen, and testicles. While mesothelioma has several causes, most diagnoses relate to asbestos exposure. Since mesothelioma has a long onset time, it can remain dormant for decades.
  • Cancer, including cancer of the lungs, esophagus, and ovaries. Scientists are still trying to understand the relationship between asbestos exposure and cancer, but compelling evidence suggests that asbestos exposure could compound other risk factors. People who have histories of both asbestos exposure and tobacco use, for instance, are substantially more likely to develop lung cancer than people who only have a history of asbestos exposure or only have a history of tobacco use. 

Unfortunately, most asbestos-related diseases, like mesothelioma, take a very long time to develop—the median age of persons diagnosed with mesothelioma is about 72. This is known as a latency – the time from exposure until symptoms appear. The latency of asbestos can be forty or fifty years.

How to Tell If a China-Made Product Contains Asbestos 

Asbestos is often used to supplement and reinforce other products. Since raw asbestos is almost never present in consumer goods, asbestos cannot typically be detected without laboratory testing

Asbestos fibers can be microscopic, and have no smell, so the product in question must be examined through one of several recognized methods for detecting the presence of asbestos.

If you, or a loved one, have been injured by an asbestos-contaminated China-made product, you should speak with your healthcare provider about screening and monitoring you for asbestos exposure and symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses.


If you may have been exposed to asbestos, speak with your healthcare provider about tests and screening to help detect the presence of asbestos fibers and asbestos-related damage.

AsbestosClaims.Law is your comprehensive resource for all things asbestos. We hope this information is helpful.

If you have any additional questions or concerns related to asbestos, check out our website and YouTube page for videos, infographics and answers to your questions about asbestos, including health and safety, asbestos testing, removing asbestos from your home and building, and legal information about compensation for asbestos injuries.

And if you believe that you were exposed to asbestos, or have been diagnosed with an asbestos illness, you could be entitled to significant compensation—money you could use to cover the costs of asbestos removal services, pay for medical treatment, and preemptively protect your physical well-being. 

All without filing a lawsuit.

If you’d like help with filing a claim, please get in touch by email at [email protected], or call or text us at (833) 4-ASBESTOS (427-2378) or (206) 455-9190. We’ll listen to your story and explain your options. And we never charge for anything unless you receive money in your pocket.

1 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.
2 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.