Consumer authorities in the UAE have launched a crackdown on the sale of thermal flasks containing asbestos.
All retailers selling products that use the cancer-causing fibres have been asked to remove them from shelves with immediate effect.
Experts urged consumers to only purchase flasks carrying the Emirates Conformity Assessment System mark, which guarantees they are safe.
The mark was established by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma).
“The Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection sector in Dubai has set up a specialised team in co-operation with the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology to address traders and guide them to withdraw asbestos-containing thermal flasks,” said Mohammed Lootah, chief executive of the authority.
“The team will organise inspections and awareness visits starting today to ensure the Dubai market is free of these products that affect the health and safety of consumers.”
Some designs of thermal flasks use asbestos — an excellent insulator — to allow the product to better retain heat.
Potential risk to consumers only becomes a factor if the flask breaks, releasing fibres into the air that users could then inhale.
Inhalation can lead to serious lung conditions including cancer. Other countries have imposed similar restrictions on flasks to protect consumers.
Products containing asbestos have been banned in the UK for many years, but do still occasionally find their way into the market.
In 2017, thermal flasks being sold on eBay and in John Lewis, a UK department store, were withdrawn after being found to contain asbestos.