Get smart about asbestos

By Staff Reporter

With a 'third wave' of asbestos-related disease being attributed to renovating and maintaining affected property, investors and property owners are being urged to have a closer look at risk-mitigation.

National Asbestos Awareness Week is aiming to help renovators get a greater understanding of the potential risks through a campaign that is aiming to be the first line of defence against this third-wave of asbestos-related cancer.

Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related disease globally, a phenomenon the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute says is most likely as the country is among the top consumers of asbestos-containing cement products per capita.

Properties built and/or renovated before the mid-1980s are likely to contain some form of asbestos, and investors should be wary and take necessary precautions when renovating these properties.

Mesothelioma, which is an incurable asbestos-related cancer, has now been seen in a 'third wave' due to investors and home owners not taking the right steps when improving their properties. For this reason, the Institute is urging Australians to be careful, saying “Don’t play renovation roulette!”

A step you can take immediately is to head on to associated Asbestos Awareness websites, including the recently launched ACT government site, to find out a number of facts that will help identify asbestos in the home.

These indicators include suburbs most likely to contain asbestos materials, common locations within the property, sources of advice and requirements for property owners.

Professor Nico van Zandwijk, director of the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, said, “The importance of raising awareness of the dangers of releasing asbestos fibres into the air when renovating or maintaining homes cannot be overstated. 

“With DIY renovations increasing partly due to the popularity of home renovation and lifestyle television programs and magazines, those thinking about renovating or home maintenance must visit to learn where asbestos can be found in the home and how best to manage it.

“Irrespective of what material a home is constructed of, we want all Australians to ask themselves, could my home contain asbestos products and could I be playing renovation roulette, putting my health and the health of my family at risk by disturbing asbestos when renovating or maintaining my home?”

Asbestos Awareness week is being held from 26 to 30 November.

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