The Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) has designated November as Asbestos Awareness Month, when government agencies and advocacy groups will host several events to educate the public on asbestosis, mesothelioma and other health problems caused by the mineral.
This marks the first-ever Asbestos Awareness Month, and the campaign will urge people all over the country to “stop playing renovation roulette”. The saying refers to the growing number of people who are taking on house renovations themselves without contacting property officials to mitigate the risks of asbestos exposure.
ADRI is working with the Asbestos Education Committee to spread knowledge of the best ways to stay safe from asbestos exposure. Australia was one of the top asbestos consumers in the world, using it to improve cement products and build brick, weatherboard, fibro or clad homes.
In fact, any home that was built before 1987 has a chance of being contaminated by the carcinogen. What’s scariest about this is that the average homeowner can’t tell which materials may contain asbestos and which are harmless.
The groups warned that asbestos can be found anywhere, from carpets and vinyl tiles to walls, cement floors and ceilings.
‘No safe level of asbestos”
The two groups urged renovators to do everything they can to protect themselves and their families from asbestos exposure.
“There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres. If homeowners damage or disturb asbestos products when renovating or maintaining their home and release fibres into the air, they’re playing renovation roulette and putting their health and the health of their family at risk,” the groups said in a joint press release.
“With Australia having one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world, unless homeowners start taking this warning seriously, the number of Australians diagnosed with mesothelioma (an incurable asbestos-related cancer) will continue to rise.”
Asbestos affects people when it is breathed into the lungs, where it can lodge itself into the lining of the organs and eventually cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The rates of mesothelioma are expected to jump between 2012 and 2020 as more people are diagnosed with the disease decades after initial exposure.
The groups also reminded the public of the many illegal activities related to asbestos dumping. Burying asbestos on any property is not only illegal, it poses serious health risks. All abatement work must be performed by a licenced asbestos removalist.
Those who may have come in contact with the fibre are urged to contact mesothelioma lawyers, who can help victims receive appropriate compensation.