ASBESTOS A HIDDEN KILLER
Asbestos Awareness Month: know the risk in your house
THE ambassador for national Asbestos Awareness Month, Don Burke, has issued a heartfelt plea to every Australian to make it their business to Get to kNOw Asbestos this NOvember.
Joining the Asbestos Education Committee, the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute and the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia, Mr Burke said there was no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres, therefore it was vital that we all learnt about the risks of disturbing asbestos.
Peter Dunphy, chair of the Asbestos Education Committee heading the national Asbestos Awareness Month campaign, said Australia was among the highest consumers of asbestos products in the world.
Asbestos-containing materials were common in homes built or renovated before 1987, with a broad range of products still commonly found in and around brick, weatherboard, fibro and clad homes.
People would be surprised at where they might find the hidden danger of asbestos.
It could be anywhere – under floor coverings such as carpets, linoleum and vinyl tiles, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, ceilings and ceiling space (insulation), eaves, garages, roofs, around hot-water pipes, fences, extensions to homes, garages, outdoor toilets, backyard and farm sheds, chook sheds and even dog kennels.
“By visiting asbestosawareness.com.au, people will be able to take the 20 Point Safety Check and easily search to identify the sorts of products to look for, the locations of where they might be found and learn how to manage and dispose of asbestos safely,” Mr Dunphy said.
Barry Robson, president of the ADFA and long-time campaigner and advocate for workers and families affected by asbestos-related diseases, said renovators risked exposing themselves and families to asbestos fibres if they did not know where asbestos might be in their homes.
Tradespeople are particularly vulnerable as they can come into contact with asbestos-containing materials on the job every day, so they must be doubly aware of where it might be and what to do to prevent releasing fibres that can be inhaled.
In rural regions, many farm buildings were constructed from fibro as a cost-effective means of housing equipment and stock and it was also widely used to construct “sleep-out” additions to farmhouses, workers’ accommodation and community housing throughout much of regional Australia.
If left undisturbed and well-maintained, asbestos-containing products generally don’t pose a health risk.
However, if these products are disturbed and fibres are released during a renovation, a knockdown-rebuild or the redevelopment of an old fibro home site, this is when health risks can occur.
ASBESTOS AWARENESS: 2014 Group Ambassadors Don Burke, John Jarrat, Scott McGregor and Barry Du Bois.