Asbestos Awareness Month, November 2013 aims to educate Australian’s about the dangers of asbestos in and around homes because Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos related diseases in the world.
With asbestos-related diseases continuing to increase among Australians as a direct result of exposure to asbestos fibres during home renovations and maintenance, the importance of raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos and how best to manage it in and around homes, cannot be overstated!
During Asbestos Awareness Month 1-30 November 2013 we aim to educate as many Australian’s as possible about the dangers of asbestos and how best to manage it.
Do you know where asbestos might be found in your home?
1. Do you know that if your home was built or renovated before 1987 there is a high likelihood that it WILL contain asbestos products in one form or another?
2. Do you know that even if your home is constructed of BRICK that it might contain asbestos?
3. Do you know WHERE you might find asbestos products in your home?
4. Do you know that asbestos was used in the manufacture of MANY building and home decorator products including carpet underlay and wall and floor tiles?
5. Do you know that asbestos might be found in and around ONE IN THREE Australian homes?
6. Do you know that if you disturb products containing asbestos you RISK INHALING asbestos fibres?
7. Do you know the diseases that asbestos fibres can cause, and that they CAN BE FATAL?
8. Do you know how to IDENTIFY asbestos products?
9. Do you know the PRECAUTIONS you need to take when working with asbestos?
If you said NO to ANY of the above you are not alone! Most Australians don’t realise where asbestos might be found in their homes and the risks they take when disturbing it during renovations or maintenance.
Many wrongly believe that ONLY fibro homes contain asbestos. Asbestos products can most likely be found in ANY Australian home built or renovated before 1987 even brick, weatherboard, fibro and clad homes.
Asbestos can be found 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!
It’s vital that Australians take the warnings seriously, that they stop playing ‘renovation roulette’ and protect themselves and their families from exposure to asbestos fibres during renovations and maintenance.
Australians need to think smart, think safe, think asbestosawareness.com.au - it’s not worth the risk!
Before renovating, visit www.asbestosawareness.com.au to learn where asbestos might be found in their home, the dangers of disturbing it and how best to manage it.
During Asbestos Awareness Month Australians can also host a ‘Blue Lamington Drive’ to raise awareness of asbestos in homes and help raise vital funds for asbestos diseases research and support services by visiting www.bluelamington.com.
For more information or to arrange an interview with researchers, asbestos management experts, case studies and ambassadors; Don Burke, Scott Cam, John Jarrat, Scott McGregor and Cherie Barber contact:
Insight Communications P: 02 9319 3844
Clare Collins M: 0414 821 957 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alice Collins M: 0414 686 091 E: email@example.com
To download hi-res images including asbestos products and diagrams demonstrating where asbestos might be in and around the home, please visit the downloads page on www.asbestosawareness.com.au.
JOURNALIST NOTES - ASBESTOS AWARENESS MONTH 1-30 NOVEMBER
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.
If left undisturbed asbestos generally does not pose a health risk. However, the study ‘Increasing incidence of malignant mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos during home maintenance and renovation’ by researcher Nola J Olsen et al which examined cases from the Western Australian Mesothelioma Register (from 1960 to 2008) showed that over a four year period (2005 and 2008), 8.4% of all men and 35.7% of all women diagnosed with mesothelioma were home renovators with renovations and maintenance being the main cause of the disease in women.
The need to educate ALL Australians about the dangers of asbestos is vital! In 2008, a study by Professor Anthony Johnson et al into ‘The prevalence of self-reported asbestos exposure during home renovation in NSW residents’ revealed:
1. 60.5% of do it yourself (DIY) renovators reported being exposed to asbestos during home renovations.
2. 53% reported their partner and 40% reported their children were also exposed to asbestos during home DIY home renovations.
3. Non DIY renovators were less likely to be exposed or have their families exposed.
4. 58% of DIY renovators cut AC Fibro Sheeting – this was the most common activity resulting in asbestos exposure.
5. 37% of DIY renovators reported using a power tool to cut asbestos products.
The study concluded that asbestos exposure was common during home renovations – particularly in DIY and found a significant number of people were planning further renovations in the next five years.
1. Every home built or renovated in the years leading up to 1987, is most likely to contain asbestos.
2. A conservative estimate is that 1 in 3 homes in Australia contains asbestos including homes constructed of weatherboard and brick.
3. If asbestos is undisturbed it does not pose a health risk.
4. Many Australians may unknowingly be putting their health and the health of their children, and neighbours at risk because they don’t really understand the dangers of working with asbestos or know where it might be found in and around their home.
5. During renovations or the demolition of homes containing asbestos, asbestos fibres can be released into the air and be inhaled leading to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
6. Not only homes constructed of fibro contain asbestos. Asbestos may be found in every room in the home. It may be behind wall and floor tiles, in walls, ceilings, under floor coverings including lino and carpet and around hot water systems.
Australia experienced a major housing boom after World War II and the rate of home ownership increased from around 40 per cent in 1947 to over 70 per cent in 1960 and sparked a massive phase of building and construction in Australia. Fibro or asbestos-cement was widely used in this construction era. In 1966, 30 per cent of all houses in NSW were asbestos clad. Asbestos materials still exist in many homes today in other parts of the home. To learn where asbestos is likely to be found in homes visit asbestosawareness.com.au.
KEY FACTS ABOUT ASBESTOS RELATED DISEASES
1. Mesothelioma is a cancer which is almost uniquely caused by exposure to asbestos fibres.
2. There is no cure.
3. The average survival rate after diagnosis is between 6-18 months.
4. During renovations or the demolition of homes containing asbestos, asbestos fibres can be released into the air and be inhaled leading to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Inhaled fibres increase the risk of developing malignant mesothelioma or lung cancer.
References: Olsen NJ, Franklin PJ, Reid A, de Klerk NH, Threlfall TJ, Shilkin K, Musk B, 5-Sept-2011, “Increasing incidence of malignant mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos during home maintenance and renovation”, Medical Journal of Australia, 195 (5): 271-274. www.mja.com.au/journal/2011/195/5/increasing-incidence-malignant-mesothelioma-after-exposure-asbestos-during-home
Park EK, Hyland R, Yates D, Thomas PS, Johnson A. Prevalence of self-reported asbestos exposure during home renovation in NSW residents. Respirology Supplement 1, Poster 143. March 2010.
Clare CollinsP: 02 9518 4744
M: 0414 821 957
Alice CollinsP: 61 2 9518 4744
M: 0414 686 091