Pro­tect your­self from an in­vis­i­ble can­cer risk

Central Queensland News - - HOME -

HOME ren­o­va­tors and tradies are un­know­ingly putting them­selves at risk of lung can­cer by fail­ing to pro­tect against sil­ica dust on the job site, the Can­cer Coun­cil says.

New es­ti­mates from the can­cer char­ity sug­gest more than 230 cases of lung can­cer each year are caused by ex­po­sure to sil­ica dust, prompt­ing warn­ings for trades­peo­ple and DIY home ren­o­va­tors to pro­tect them­selves from the in­vis­i­ble can­cer risk.

Can­cer Coun­cil Aus­tralia oc­cu­pa­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal can­cer risk com­mit­tee chair­man Terry Slevin said trades­peo­ple who had daily ex­po­sure to the su­per fine dust were the most at risk, but home ren­o­va­tors should also be­ware.

“We es­ti­mate, based on a study pub­lished in 2011, that about 600,000 Aus­tralian work­ers are ex­posed to sil­ica dust and there are meth­ods of mit­i­gat­ing that ex­po­sure,” he said.

“There is peo­ple in the min­ing game, the con­struc­tion game, the ren­o­va­tion game, road build­ing and con­struc­tion, sand­blast­ing, there is a large num­ber of jobs where peo­ple are likely to be ex­posed to sil­ica.”

Sil­ica is found in stone, rock, sand, gravel, clay, bricks, tiles, con­crete and some plas­tics. The dust, which Mr Slevin said was 100 times smaller than a grain of sand, was re­leased when th­ese ma­te­ri­als were cut.

Mr Slevin said sur­vival out­comes for lung can­cer tended to be poor and warned trades­peo­ple to pro­tect them­selves us­ing per­sonal res­pi­ra­tory de­vices, dust preven­tion mea­sures and proper ven­ti­la­tion. Eve Ren­o­va­tions owner Laura Mad­den has worked in the build­ing in­dus­try for the past 15 years and said the dan­gers of sil­ica was part of her early train­ing. Ms Mad­den said she tried to avoid me­chan­i­cal cut­ting of ma­te­ri­als con­tain­ing sil­ica where pos­si­ble.

“That re­duces a lot of that dust, but if we do ever have to use me­chan­i­cal cut­ting, grinders or things like that, at all times we have to wear a dust mask and to do it in a well-ven­ti­lated area and make sure we’re wear­ing the cor­rect PPE (per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment).”

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