New resources launched for National Asbestos Awareness Month
The Asbestos Education Committee and Advocacy Australia have launched their 10th annual National Asbestos Awareness Month campaign with a new education resource, ‘Asbestos 101 for Residential Property Owners, Managers and Tradies’. Since 2011, the National Asbestos Awareness campaign has developed new resources to ensure Australians continue to learn to manage asbestos safely by providing user-friendly and innovative resources.
Clare Collins, Chair of the Asbestos Education Committee and Advocacy Australia, said the Committee identified the need for a new, unique resource for those most likely to come into contact with asbestos in residential properties (such as homeowners, renovators, property managers and tradies) and now strives to raise community awareness by providing free resources to help save lives.
“While Australia faces the serious wave of silicosis disease, a preventable occupational lung disease predominantly impacting workers from a wide range of industries; Australians must never forget that asbestos lurking in homes continues to pose serious health risks to anyone exposed to fibres when asbestos is not managed safely during renovations, maintenance or demolition, including mums, dads and children,” Collins said.
When asbestos is disturbed and microscopic fibres are released that can be inhaled, this can lead to asbestos-related diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. There is no cure for mesothelioma, a cancer that can develop between 33 and 44 years after inhaling asbestos fibres with the average survival time following diagnosis around 12 months. Collins stressed that there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres, as exposure is now also linked to ovarian and laryngeal (voice box) cancers, with evidence suggesting that it could increase the risk of other cancers such as breast, stomach and colon cancer.
“With interest rates rising and a shortage of tradies putting pressure on homeowners to do their own renovations, we hold serious concerns that DIYers might risk their lives and the lives of loved ones if they fail to respect the life-threatening risks when asbestos is not managed safely and in line with regulations,” Collins said.
Many homeowners know little of asbestos risks and think that only tradies are at risk of asbestos-related diseases, but the most recent Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR) Report, from April 2023, revealed that 83% of respondents were assessed as having “possible or probable” exposure to asbestos fibres in non-occupational settings — primarily in homes. Of the patients surveyed, the dominant non-occupational exposure to asbestos fibres (51%) occurred when undertaking home renovations, while 38% of respondents said they’d lived in a house undergoing renovations.
The survey also found that 20% of recipients had lived in the same home as someone who was exposed to asbestos at work and brought the fibres home in dust, while 12% said they’d lived in a house made of fibro that was built between 1947 and 1987. With Australia’s annual asbestos-related death toll of more than 4000 predicted to rise, the Asbestos Education Committee is urging homeowners, property managers and tradies to learn how to manage asbestos safety by visiting Asbestos Awareness, a leading source of asbestos information.
Developed in accordance with government work health and safety regulations and codes of practice, the free resource provides Australians with vital information as to why asbestos is dangerous; the risks of working unsafely with ACMs; the steps to take if they come across materials they suspect may contain asbestos; the importance of engaging an occupational hygienist or licensed asbestos assessor to confirm if asbestos is present; and, why it’s vital to only use licensed asbestos removalists to ensure hazardous asbestos materials are removed and disposed of safely.
Visit asbestosawareness.com.au to access Asbestos 101 for Residential Property Owners, Managers and Tradies.
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