National Asbestos Awareness Week 2019

Asbestos disease still impacts the community

Monday 25 November kicks off National Asbestos Awareness Week and the Asbestos Disease Support Society is calling on Australians not to be complacent about the dangers of harmful asbestos fibres.

With the theme of “Asbestos lurks in more places than you’d think”, the Society is joining hundreds of government and non-government organisations in encouraging Australians to be aware of where asbestos might be found.

It’s a fact of life that living in Australia means living with asbestos”, said Trevor Torrens, General Manager of the Society. Australia was one of the highest worldwide users of asbestos through history, and despite its use being banned since 2003, large amounts of asbestos are still present in many Australian homes, workplaces and the environment.

It is estimated that 4,000 Australians are dying from asbestos-related diseases every year.

At the height of its use, asbestos was in over 3,000 products and many of these products are still contained in our homes and workplaces.

Inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause a range of deadly diseases including mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer.  There is no cure and the prognosis is extremely poor. Asbestos fibres are around 200 times thinner than a human hair, can be invisible and be inhaled easily. They can become trapped deep in the lungs and cause damage over a long time. It can take many years for an asbestos related disease to develop after a person is exposed to asbestos – the latency period, which is commonly 20 to 30 years after exposure.

“Unfortunately, we are still seeing the fall out for people who worked with asbestos containing products like fibro, brake linings and lagging on pipes prior to the Australia-wide ban,” Mr Torrens said.

“We also have strong concerns about a new wave of exposure to home renovators.”

About one third of homes built between 1945 and the late 1980’s are likely contain some form of asbestos building product. If disturbed, without adequate precautions, the asbestos fibres are released into the atmosphere and if inhaled, can lead to asbestos related disease.

“It’s not just the tradies that need to be vigilant. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) home renovators are a group at risk of exposure to asbestos in the home environment.”

It is vital to ensure that homeowners and renovators are aware to the risks. That’s why Asbestos Awareness Week is educating Australian homeowners and DIY renovators about the likely presence of asbestos in older homes – and in places they might not think about.

Knowing what you are dealing with is also vitally important, as in many cases it is impossible to tell the difference between a product that contains asbestos and one that does not, as some companies manufactured identical-looking products after the asbestos ban.

DIY renovators are encouraged to always seek help and advice in identifying asbestos, and getting it safely removed and disposed of.

Asbestos Awareness Week is a chance for all Australians to become aware of where in the home or workplace asbestos could be, and to make sure they know what to do to avoid becoming exposed.

Media Contact: Trevor Torrens (ADSS) M 0435 895 928 or trevort@adss.org.au

Posted in Media releases

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