Thursday, October 17th, 2013 - Asbestos Diseases Research Institute & Asbestos Education Committee

MEDIA RELEASE: 17 October 2013

National Asbestos Awareness Month Campaign 1 - 30 November. Play it safe with asbestos! - Visit - It’s not worth the risk!


On Friday 1 November, Australia’s first national Asbestos Awareness Month will be launched to urge all Australian’s to ‘stop playing renovation roulette’ in a campaign to fight the current wave of asbestos-related diseases caused by inhaling dangerous asbestos fibres while renovating or maintaining homes.


Don’t play renovation roulette Australia! Visit to learn where asbestos might be in your home and how to manage it safely because it’s not worth the risk! 


That’s the warning the Asbestos Education Committee working in partnership with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute is issuing during Australia’s first Asbestos Awareness Month in November.


Australia has been ranked among the world’s top consumers of asbestos cement products per capita with asbestos products used in almost every brick, weatherboard, fibro or clad home built or renovated before 1987. However, most people can’t tell whether materials contain asbestos just by looking at them. 


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, roofs, around hot water pipes, fences, extensions to homes, outdoor toilets, backyard and farm sheds, chook sheds and even dog kennels. It could be anywhere!


There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres. If homeowners damage or disturb asbestos products when renovating or maintaining their home and release fibres into the air, they’re playing renovation roulette and putting their health and the health of their family at risk.


With Australia having one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world, unless homeowners start taking this warning seriously, the number of Australians diagnosed with mesothelioma (an incurable asbestos-related cancer) will continue to rise.


The call for Australians to stop playing renovation roulette is supported by a study recently published by Dr Anthony Johnson et al in the Medical Journal of Australia that found exposure to asbestos fibres was very common during home renovations, particularly in the DIY setting. 


The study showed more than 60% of do-it-yourself (DIY) renovators reported being exposed to asbestos dust during home renovations. 53% reported that their partner had been exposed; and 40% said that their children had been exposed to asbestos dust during home renovations.


Dr Anthony Johnson, co-author of the research said, “The research outcomes showed that Australians are not paying attention to the warnings about the seriousness of being exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres when undertaking home renovations or maintenance.


“We’re seeing a growing number of patients with mesothelioma, a fatal cancer whose only report of exposure to asbestos was during renovations, particularly in women who assisted their husbands in the renovation process, and often cleaned up the dust and broken pieces of fibro after the work had been done.


"The only known way of developing mesothelioma is through exposure to asbestos fibres. Currently, the only means we have of preventing the disease is by avoiding asbestos exposure completely," Dr Johnson said.


If left undisturbed asbestos generally doesn’t pose a health risk. However, a 4 year study by researcher Nola J Olsen et al showed that more than one third of women in West Australia diagnosed with mesothelioma had a history of home renovation with exposure to asbestos fibres as the most likely cause of their deadly disease.


Professor Nico van Zandwijk, an expert in asbestos-related diseases and Director of Australia’s Asbestos Diseases Research Institute said, "Most Australians think that asbestos-related diseases caused by exposure to fibres, is a thing of the past. How wrong they are!


“The number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma continues to rise despite the introduction of preventive measures in the 1980s.  Therefore it’s vital that Australians take the warning about the potential dangers of home renovation seriously and visit to learn where asbestos can be found in and around their homes and to learn how to avoid serious risks," he said.


"For every mesothelioma case there are at least two lung cancer cases caused by asbestos, and for all those diagnosed with an asbestos cancer, the realisation that their disease might have been prevented simply by managing asbestos safely, can be heartbreaking," Professor van Zandwijk said.


Peter Dunphy, Chair of the Asbestos Education Committee said, “Whether a home is constructed of brick, fibro, weatherboard or has exterior cladding, asbestos can be found almost anywhere in and around 1 in 3 Australian homes built or renovated before the mid 1980s.


"As these homes age, DIY renovations are common so Australians need to protect themselves and their families from exposure to asbestos fibres.


"Before commencing any home maintenance or renovation work, homeowners and renovators, particularly young couples and first home buyers excited about renovating their home, need to visit to learn where asbestos might be and how best to manage it.


"When it comes to asbestos, don’t cut it! Don’t drill it! Don’t sand it! Don’t saw it! Don’t scrape it! Don’t scrub it! Don’t dismantle it! Don’t tip it! Don’t waterblast it and most importantly, don’t dump it!


"If homeowners suspect they have asbestos in their home and want it removed, we recommend using a licenced asbestos removalist just as they’d use a licenced electrician for electrical work because of the dangers of working with electricity.


"We’re urging Australians to stop playing renovation roulette and start playing it safe. We want them to think smart and think safe by visiting because it’s not worth the risk," Mr Dunphy said.


In 2013, the AEC has launched its first national Blue Lamington Drive to support the work of ADRI. During Asbestos Awareness Month hold a Blue Lamington Drive morning or afternoon tea at home or at work and help raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos when renovating while raising vital funds to support the valuable work of the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute. 

  • To learn about where asbestos might be and how to manage it safely, visit
  • To register your Blue Lamington Drive morning or afternoon tea, please visit  
  • To make a donation call 02 9767 9800 (during business hours) or visit
    Donations of $2.00 or more will be gratefully received and are fully tax deductible.






To download images, web tiles and more information visit the downloads section of  or access directly from  - please see attached PDF for complete release and comprehensive journalist notes.


To arrange interviews with a variety of spokespersons and limited case studies please contact:

Insight Communications - 02 9319 3844

Clare Collins 0414 821 957 - [email protected]

Alice Collins  0414 686 091 - [email protected]


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Asbestos Diseases Research Institute & Asbestos Education Committee


The Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI), located in the Bernie Banton Centre, Concord NSW was officially opened by the then Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd in January 2009. With Australia having one of the highest incidences of asbestos cancers in the world, the ADRI was established by the Asbestos Diseases Research Foundation (a charitable not-for-profit organisation) as Australia’s only purpose built research facility dedicated to preventing asbestos related diseases.  The ADRI’s primary objectives are to:

1.         Conduct research into asbestos related diseases to provide a better future for all Australians diagnosed with asbestos related illness.

2.         Be instrumental in promoting effective preventative measures to avoid Australians being unnecessarily exposed to asbestos fibres.

With the establishment of the ADRI as the first stand-alone research institute dedicated to tackling this silent and still increasing epidemic, Australia has taken a vital step forward in the international fight against asbestos related diseases.


Following the success of the NSW based 2011 and 2012 awareness week campaigns; in 2013 the Asbestos Education Committee is funding Asbestos Awareness Month as a national awareness campaign. The Asbestos Awareness campaign is being overseen by WorkCover, the ACTU and James Hardie and supported by the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute.  Funding for this campaign was provided by James Hardie Industries SE and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities.

Clare Collins or Alice Collins
P: 02 9319 3844
M: 0414 821 957


asbestos awareness month; asbestos; mesothelioma;; blue lamington; john jarratt; scott cam; lindsay farris; Asbestos Education Committee; Asbestos Diseases Research Institute;




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