Australia: 'Extremely high' fungi levels in WestConnex tunnels poses health risk - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia'Extremely high' fungi levels in WestConnex tunnels poses health risk

03:05  15 march  2019
03:05  15 march  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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Built mostly in underground tunnels , WestConnex is part of an integrated transport plan to keep Sydney moving. Roads, rail, light rail, ferries and buses are all part of the transport solution. WestConnex is just one of more than 80 projects outlined in the NSW Long Term Transport Master

WestConnex is a 33-kilometre (21 mi) predominately underground motorway scheme currently under construction in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The motorway scheme, a joint project of the New South Wales and Australian governments

'Extremely high' fungi levels in WestConnex tunnels poses health risk© Steven Siewert High concentrations of airbourne fungai have been found in the M4 East tunnels. Extremely high concentrations of airborne fungi regarded as a potential "health risk to all persons" have been found in the M4 East tunnels under construction in Sydney's inner west.

A confidential report, completed on Monday by a Mycolab laboratory, found the average of four samples taken from inside the tunnels had a rating of "extremely high" airborne fungal concentrations.

The twin 5.5-kilometre tunnels from Homebush to Haberfield form the first stage of the $16.8 billion WestConnex toll road project.

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WestConnex is being built using finance from the Australian and NSW governments and the private sector. WestConnex will be funded by motorists using distance-based tolling, similar to the M7. This means motorists will pay tolls only for the sections of motorway they use.

abnormally high quantities, they can present especially hazardous health risks to humans after Some molds also produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. Extreme exposure to very high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and in some

"This [airborne concentration] was significantly higher than the outdoor airborne fungal concentrations," the report said. "The indoor locations tested had 'elevanted to extremely high' levels."

The report, which was commissioned by construction company CPB, said extremely high fungal concentrations in the air can have "probable health risk to all persons". Elevated or high levels can also pose a "health risk to sensitised individuals", it said.

The findings prompted about 500 electricians and other construction staff to stop work on the M4 East project on Friday morning, calling for CPB contractors to take steps to ensure their health and safety in the tunnels.

The Electrical Trades Union, which represents hundreds of electricians and plumbers working on the M4 East, said concerns about high levels of fungi in the tunnel and elsewhere had been raised on a number of occasions by workers who have had prolonged exposure to the contamination.

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WestConnex tunnels are being built in good-quality Hawkesbury sandstone and Ashfield shale. The M4 East tunnels will be built with roadheaders and traditional rock-breaking methods, while the New M5 tunnels will be built using roadheaders and a technique called blasting.

Existential risks pose unique challenges to prediction, even more than other long-term events, because of observation selection effects. Biotechnology can pose a global catastrophic risk in the form of bioengineered organisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi , plants or animals).

"We believe there is an ongoing and imminent risk to people's health and safety," ETU organiser Stewart Mills said.

"[Workers] are very frustrated. We raised concerns last Friday and we asked for an independent hygienist to come in."

The report by Mycolab also found samples taken from surfaces at the construction site showed all five locations tested had "extreme contamination" levels of mould concentrations.

CPB Contractors declined to comment on the matter on Friday.

The government has said it expects the M4 East, the first major part of WestConnex and costing $3.8 billion to build, to open to motorists within the next three months.

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