Strathbogie Shire Council

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Asbestos Awareness

Asbestos Awareness Week

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.

Key Facts about Asbestos in the Home

  • Every home built or renovated in the years leading up to 1985, is most likely to contain asbestos
  • A conservative estimate is that 1 in 3 homes in Australia contains asbestos including homes constructed of brick
  • If asbestos is undisturbed it does not pose a health risk
  • Many Australians may unknowingly be putting their health and the health of their children, and neighbours at risk because they don’t really understand the dangers of working with asbestos or know where it might be found in and around their home
  • During renovations or the demolition of homes containing asbestos, asbestos fibres can be released into the air and be inhaled leading to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma
  • Not only homes constructed of fibro contain asbestos. Asbestos may be found in every room in the home. It may be behind wall and floor tiles, in walls, ceilings, under floor coverings including lino and carpet and around hot water systems  

Asbestos Awareness Week

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