Until the 1980s, asbestos was regarded as a highly useful material. It was used in the construction of houses all over the country before it was discovered to be the cause of fatal diseases, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.
While asbestos is relatively harmless when left to its own devices, if it’s disturbed – say, as a result of home renovations – deadly fibres can be released into the air. It’s these fibres that, when inhaled, can make people ill.
According to a study conducted by Professor Anthony Johnson (et al) in 2008, more than 65 per cent of DIYers in New South Wales have been exposed to asbestos at some point during home renovations.
In addition to this, 53 per cent of those who took part in the study revealed their partner had also come into contact with the deadly substance – and 40 per cent said their children had been exposed to asbestos, too!
So, what can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen to your family?
If you’re unsure whether a material you’re handling contains asbestos or not, err on the side of caution and get in touch with a licenced asbestos removal company. They will not only be able to help you determine if asbestos is present in your home, but also safely manage and dispose of the material should it be present.
It’s important to note that you can’t usually tell if something contains asbestos simply by looking at it – so always contact a professional if you’re in any doubt.
The Asbestos Education Committee has also put together this useful slogan to help DIYers remember what NOT to do when they’re in the presence of asbestos:
“Don’t drill it! Don’t drop it! Don’t sand it! Don’t saw it! Don’t scrape it! Don’t scrub it! Don’t dismantle it! Don’t tip it! Don’t water blast it! Don’t demolish it! And whatever you do … Don’t dump it!”
Finally, it pays to know where you might find asbestos in your home, so you can take the necessary precautions when conducting renovations in those areas. The bad news is that asbestos can be found pretty much anywhere. It was often used in floor coverings, such as carpets and tiles, walls (both internal and external), garages, fences around hot water pipes, and even in sheds.
If you’ve been exposed to asbestos and have become ill as a result, you could be entitled to compensation – and Gerard Malouf Partners’ compensation lawyers can help you get it.