Australia has one of the highest incidences of asbestos related cancers in the world. Exposure to asbestos fibres is considered a major threat to the health of Australians in addition to the negative environmental impact dumped asbestos is having on the Australian bush and communities.
Currently in Australia, EVERY home built or renovated before the mid 1980’s is highly likely to contain asbestos. If left undisturbed it is considered generally not to be a risk to health. However, when disturbed during renovations and home maintenance, asbestos fibres are released into the air and when inhaled can cause life-threatening diseases including mesothelioma which is an incurable, terminal cancer.
In partnership with the internationally recognised Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, Asbestos Awareness Week is the initiative of the Asbestos Education Committee, established to promote education campaigns enabling the Australian public to learn about the dangers of asbestos and how to manage it safely, in and around the home, specifically when renovating.
Prior to asbestos being banned in Australia in 2003, those most affected by asbestos were asbestos miners and their families (first wave), followed by tradesman such as builders, plumbers and electricians and their families (second wave) exposed to fibres brought home on worker’s clothing.
With scientific studies demonstrating that current asbestos exposure is directly linked to DIY renovations, and with every Australian home built or renovated prior to 1985 likely to contain asbestos, the acknowledged ‘Third Wave’ of victims of asbestos related diseases are homeowners and families exposed during home renovations or maintenance.
If inhaled, asbestos fibres can cause life-threatening lung disease including mesothelioma, lung cancer. With a median gap of 40 years between exposure and diagnosis, and with the majority of people diagnosed with mesothelioma living for around 100 days after diagnosis, the importance of education about the dangers of asbestos to homeowners cannot be overstated.