Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Asbestos Awareness Week is 26 – 30 November 2012

Australia’s leading men of home, lifestyle and DIY entertainment Don Burke, Scott Cam, John Jarratt, Scott McGregor and actor Lindsay Farris have joined forces with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) and the Asbestos Education Committee (AEC) to launch Asbestos Awareness Week - the first line of defence in the national campaign to fight the third wave of asbestos-related cancers.

Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos related diseases in the world most likely because Australia has also been ranked among the top consumers of asbestos cement products per capita.

With almost every Australian home built or renovated before 1987 likely to contain asbestos in one form or another; the third wave of people affected by mesothelioma (an incurable asbestos-related cancer), will continue to rise unless Australians start taking seriously the dangers of asbestos when renovating or maintaining their homes.

To help educate every Australian about the dangers of asbestos when renovating or maintaining homes, the Asbestos Awareness Ambassadors will launch the campaign with ‘Betty – The ADRI House’ (an asbestos education model home the size of a caravan and the first of her kind in Australia), and the newly updated website, now Australia’s most comprehensive online national resource featuring information on where asbestos might be found in and around the home and how best to manage it.

In light of the results of a study conducted between 2005 and 2008 that shows a rapid increase in the number of mesothelioma cases as a direct result of exposure to asbestos fibres during home renovations and maintenance, the importance of raising awareness of the dangers of releasing asbestos fibres into the air when renovating or maintaining homes cannot be overstated.

Professor Nico van Zandwijk, Director of the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute said, “It’s important for all Australians to understand that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres because there is no cure for asbestos-related diseases. Education is our first line of defence in preventing the crushing third wave of cancers caused by exposure to asbestos fibres when renovating or maintaining homes.

“Most people can’t tell whether building materials contain asbestos just by looking at them. Asbestos can be under floor coverings such as carpets, linoleum and vinyl tiles, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, ceilings, eaves, garages, around hot water pipes, fences, extensions to homes, outdoor toilets, dog kennels and backyard sheds – it could be anywhere.

“Every Australian needs to visit where they can access important information on how to appropriately manage asbestos in and around their homes,” said Professor van Zandwijk.

National Ambassadors for Asbestos Awareness Don Burke, Scott Cam, John Jarratt, Scott McGregor and Lindsay Farris will help to educate Australians of all ages in the fight against asbestos-related diseases.

Don Burke, one of Australia’s leading environmentalists and popular with all Australians for Burke’s Backyard said, “Home renovating and gardening are fabulous activities to get involved in. But there are risks involved. I have spent much of my life trying to minimise the risks. We used to use dangerous chemicals in the garden and having initiated the establishment of a national body to get rid of the nasty chemicals, gardening is now far safer. Asbestos is another dreadful risk that can be avoided. Proper education and management techniques will prevent many Australian people suffering a miserable end to their lives. I am honoured to be involved in the Asbestos Awareness Campaign.”

Scott Cam another of Australia’s most loved television personalities and host of The Block said, “You can’t muck about with asbestos. It’s dangerous stuff. And because most people can’t tell if a material is made of asbestos just by looking at it, before starting a DIY job or a renovation, we want them to visit so they have a better understanding of how to go about things to protect themselves and their families.”

John Jarratt, star of television and film for and well known for his DIY appearances on Better Homes and Gardens is supporting the campaign saying, “Asbestos is one product that may look harmless but it’s not. Last year I lost one of my best mates, actor Harold Hopkins to mesothelioma from being exposed to asbestos fibres on building sites. Having the opportunity to warn people about the dangers is very personal and important to me. I’m delighted to be on board to support this important message.”

Scott McGregor popular for his 30 years in the business and his roles in Better Homes and Gardens and as host of the hugely popular Room For Improvement said, "Many years of renovations on houses great and small has made me very aware of how toxic they can be and asbestos is on top of the list!"

"Too many Australian's are suffering and dying young through the simple act of handling asbestos around the home. It's time to get smart with DIY so when it comes to asbestos it's a definite case of D-DIY, that is, Don't do it yourself"

Lindsay Farris, actor and chair of the National Youth Theatre Company Foundation agreed to be the face of the campaign saying, “Young people are often oblivious to health concerns – they think they’re indestructible and think that asbestos is something that affected their grandparent’s generation, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. Asbestos should be top of everyone’s mind when doing stuff around the house no matter how old or how young.”

John Watson spokesperson for the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities said, “I cannot emphasise enough the importance of managing asbestos safely, and providing support for victims and families.

“Asbestos Awareness Week provides valuable opportunities such as this event and particularly the Asbestos Education Campaign to educate the public about the world-wide health problem caused by asbestos.”

Peter Dunphy, Chair of the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities Working Group and the NSW Government representative for the Asbestos Education Committee said, “We are delighted to launch ‘Betty - The ADRI House’ which will be a dominant feature of the asbestos awareness campaign. Purpose built, Betty is a model home the size of a caravan designed to demonstrate areas in the home where asbestos might be found.

 Over the next twelve months, Betty will tour cities, suburbs, rural and regional areas to inform Australians about where asbestos might be located in their homes.


Contact Insight Communications for more information or to arrange an interview. Details below.


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Asbestos, Asbestos Awareness Week, Don Burke, Scott Cam, John Jarratt, Scott McGregor, Lindsay Farris, Asbestos Education Committee, Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, Betty the ADRI House



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