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Dust-borne disease warning for outer west residents

Residents in one of the largest civic centres in the west of New South Wales were visited by a special interests action group that specialises in dust-borne diseases.

The Asbestos Victims Association of South Australia (AVASA) has recently concluded its visit to Broken Hill over May 5 and 6, where members warned the public of the dangers that the fibrous material.

The president of the action group Terry Miller explained to the ABC on May 8 that the purpose of the interstate visit was to "save lives" as asbestos was a clear danger to some residents.

Mr Miller explained that AVASA had been approached by a number of residents during the weekend visit, with many claiming they had worked with the material in years gone by while others were unsure of how to handle the prospects of upgrading or improving their properties.

This may be due to the fact that many homes and infrastructure in these areas tend to have been constructed between 1940 and 1980 – a time when the carcinogenic mineral was used intensively as a common building material.

"When you're renovating homes – a lot of people have heard of asbestos but they don't think about it when they start renovating, and it could be anywhere in the home," said Mr Miller.

However, it was not just the older houses that were the main point of concern – as many regional properties had additional structures that were used frequently that could contain the dangerous substance.

"Generally people on the land have got asbestos sheds or fences, and they do their own mechanics.

"Sheds, if they're in poor condition they could be releasing fibres which you could breathe in."

He went on to say that even older machinery could pose serious risks – as asbestos was frequently used for its heat-resistant properties.

This means that mechanical components such as brake pads, motor gaskets and engine manifolds could potentially house the fibrous substance.

The danger is that over time, these items can start to break down with general wear and tear – exposing the fibres to the open air.

If handled roughly or without adequate care – either in general usage or during replacement – these small particles can catch in the lungs and throat.

Compensation lawyers are often able to help show the link between this kind of exposure and the cancers they can cause – including the fatal versions of mesothelioma that are only ever caused by asbestos fibres.

© 2012 
Gerard Malouf & Partners
 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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