As­bestos Aware­ness Month: know the risk in your house

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page -

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 as­besto­saware­, 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.

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