Dan­gers of as­bestos

Isis Town and Country - - Opinion -

WHEN I be­came Aus­tralia’s first As­bestos Aware­ness Am­bas­sador, I pledged my full sup­port to this vi­tal cam­paign to in­crease aware­ness of how dan­ger­ous as­bestos can be to home­own­ers, trades­peo­ple and fam­i­lies when ren­o­vat­ing, main­tain­ing or de­mol­ish­ing homes or other struc­tures. As­bestos can be found in brick, weath­er­board, clad and fi­bro homes be­hind wall and floor tiles, un­der floor cov­er­ings in­clud­ing car­pets and in walls, ceil­ings, roofs, gut­ters and even dog ken­nels. It could be any­where. Sadly, cur­rent re­search tells us that peo­ple are un­know­ingly ex­pos­ing them­selves and their fam­i­lies to dan­ger­ous as­bestos fi­bres dur­ing home ren­o­va­tions, and with TV ren­o­vat­ing pro­grams fu­elling the pop­u­lar­ity of DIY, dur­ing na­tional As­bestos Aware­ness Month (Novem­ber). To­gether with my fel­low am­bas­sadors Cherie Bar­ber, Scott Cam, Barry Du Bois, John Jar­ratt and Scott McGre­gor, we hope to help save the lives of peo­ple like Mrs Carol Klint­fält OAM, who trag­i­cally lost her bat­tle with ma­lig­nant mesothe­lioma on Novem­ber 7, 2014. I had the great hon­our of know­ing Carol through our work in rais­ing aware­ness of the very real and present dan­ger of as­bestos to home­own­ers and the tragic con­se­quences of ren­o­vat­ing with­out know­ing the risks of dis­turb­ing as­bestos prod­ucts, which can be fa­tal. This heart-break­ing con­se­quence was Carol’s re­al­ity. Carol de­vel­oped mesothe­lioma be­cause she in­haled as­bestos fi­bres when work­ing with an ar­chi­tect and while han­dling fi­bro sheets when ren­o­vat­ing the fam­ily home in the 1970s. Mesothe­lioma is a can­cer that usu­ally de­vel­ops be­tween 20-50 years af­ter in­hal­ing as­bestos fi­bres. There is no cure and the av­er­age sur­vival time af­ter di­ag­no­sis is only 10 to 12 months – hard-hit­ting sta­tis­tics none of us can ig­nore. An ex­tra­or­di­nary woman, Carol was more than a statis­tic. When she lost her bat­tle with as­bestos-re­lated dis­ease, her fam­ily lost a wife, a mother, a grand­mother, a sis­ter and many lost a very dear and spe­cial friend. This fam­ily was no dif­fer­ent to the hun­dreds and thou­sands of home­own­ers through­out Aus­tralia. When they ren­o­vated their home, they didn’t know the dan­gers or that the im­pact of work­ing with as­bestos would be dev­as­tat­ing. One in ev­ery three homes built or ren­o­vated be­fore 1987 will con­tain as­bestos prod­ucts all Aus­tralians need to “Get to kNOw as­bestos this NOvem­ber” and visit www.as­besto­saware­ness.com.au to learn the dan­gers of as­bestos and how to man­age it safely be­cause it’s not worth the risk.

Don Burke,

As­bestos Aware­ness Am­bas­sador

Stephen Ben­nett It’s no won­der elec­tors are con­cerned they can’t get an ap­point­ment to see their lo­cal MP when th­ese mem­bers are try­ing to cover vast elec­torates.

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