November is Asbestos Awareness Month to educate the public about the dangers of asbestos as Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world.
Asbestos-related diseases continue to increase as a direct result of exposure to asbestos fibres during home renovations and maintenance.
Many people wrongly believe that only fibro homes contain asbestos, but asbestos products can most likely be found in any Australian home built or renovated before 1987, whether it’s brick, weatherboard, fibro or clad homes.
It can be found under floor coverings such as carpets, linoleum and vinyl tiles, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, ceilings, eaves, garages, around hot water pipes, fences, extensions to homes, outdoor toilets, dog kennels, chook yards and backyard sheds. It’s vital that Australians take the warnings seriously, stop playing ‘renovation roulette’
and protect themselves and their families from exposure to asbestos fibres during renovations and maintenance.
Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The risk of contracting these diseases increases with the number of fibres inhaled and the risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibres is also greater if you smoke. People who get health problems from inhaling asbestos have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.
If you suspect you have asbestos in your home: Don’t cut it! 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 waterblast it! Don’t demolish it! And whatever you do… Don’t dump it!
Check out the NSW Ministry of Health fact sheets about asbestos and health risks at www.health.nsw.gov.au