Investigate before starting to renovate

Engage a professional.
Engage a professional.

Its use in Australia was outlawed long ago but years later, asbestos continues to kill.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicate statistics show at least 699 people died last year from the aggressive cancer mesothelioma, which is predominantly caused by asbestos exposure.

The Asbestos Disease Support Society (ADSS) wants greater awareness of the risks of exposure to asbestos.

ADSS general manager Trevor Torrens said the aftermath of asbestos was still being felt across the community, with 71 members of the ADSS dying in 2018 because of their exposure to asbestos.

"Just this year alone, more than 30 of our members have succumbed to an asbestos-related disease, predominantly mesothelioma. All they did was turn up to work to earn a living or just went about their daily lives," he said. Mr Torrens said people most likely to have been exposed to asbestos at work included asbestos cement manufacturing workers, laggers and insulators, builders, plumbers, electricians, automotive industry workers, transport workers and textile workers. Unfortunately, we are still seeing the fallout of people who worked with asbestos-containing products like fibro, brake linings and lagging on pipes prior to the Australiawide ban on products containing asbestos in 2003. We also have strong concerns about a new wave of exposure to home renovators. My message to DIY renovators is don't take the risk - educate yourself on where asbestos may be lurking in your home and engage a professional to deal with it appropriately before you begin your work," he said.

About one-third of homes built between 1945 and the late 1980s likely contain some form of asbestos building product, according to the ADSS. If disturbed without precautions, asbestos fibres can be released into the atmosphere and, if inhaled, may lead to asbestos-related disease. Mesothelioma is an extremely painful malignancy of the outer lining of the lung or the abdominal cavity that forms as a result of exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibres. Asbestos fibres are 200 times thinner than a human hair, can be invisible and be inhaled easily. They can become trapped deep in the lungs and cause damage over a long time. Past exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. It can take many years for mesothelioma to develop after a person is exposed to asbestos - the latency period - which is commonly 20 to 30 years after exposure.

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