Thursday, September 11th, 2014 - Asbestos Education Committee Awareness Campaign



MEDIA ALERT:  Thursday 11 September 2014

Don’t Play Renovation Roulette! Get to kNOw Asbestos this NOvember!

Visit - It’s not worth the risk!

NOvember Is National Asbestos Awareness Month 2014 & Asbestos Awareness Day is Friday 28 NOvember

NOvember is national Asbestos Awareness Month. In the lead-up to Asbestos Awareness Day (Friday 28 NOvember) all Australians especially homeowners, renovators tradies and handymen need to Get to kNOw Asbestos this NOvember by visiting and take the 20 Point Asbestos Safety Check to learn how to protect themselves and families from exposure to dangerous asbestos fibres.


Peter Dunphy Chair of the Asbestos Education Committee that conducts the national Asbestos Awareness campaign said, “There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres. With at least 1 in 3 Australian homes containing asbestos, many homeowners, renovators, tradies and handymen are putting their health and the health of families at risk when doing home renovations, maintenance and demolition if they release dangerous asbestos dust and fibres that can be inhaled and lead to asbestos-related diseases including mesothelioma*.”


Mesothelioma is a cancer that mostly affects the lining of the lungs and develops between 20-50 years after inhaling asbestos fibres. There is no cure and the average survival time after diagnosis is 10-12 months.  Inhaling asbestos fibres may also cause other diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis and benign pleural disease.


In the past, Australians diagnosed with mesothelioma have primarily been men exposed to asbestos fibres in mines and asbestos factories (First Wave) and in the work-place working with asbestos-containing materials (Second Wave).  With the current wave of asbestos-related diseases there is a growing body of evidence linking asbestos exposure to DIY and renovations with more people, specifically women, diagnosed as a result of inhaling fibres in a non-occupational setting.


“We know that Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world because Australia was among the highest consumers of asbestos products until a complete ban of asbestos came into force in Australia in 2003,” Mr Dunphy said.


“However, there is still a high volume of asbestos-containing building products used prior to 1987 which remain hidden dangers in homes and buildings such as garages and farm structures so it’s critical that all Australians become asbestos aware.


“Many Australians wrongly believe that only fibro homes contain asbestos. With asbestos products still commonly found in and around brick, weatherboard, clad and fibro homes built or renovated before 1987, it’s vital that homeowners, renovators, tradesmen and handymen Get to kNOw Asbestos this NOvember.


“Visit and take the 20 Point Safety check to learn where asbestos might be found in homes and on properties and how to manage it safely because it’s not worth the risk to themselves or to their families,” he said.


Asbestos 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.


Asbestos products can also be found buried beneath and around homes leftover from the original construction when it was common practice for builders and labourers to bury broken asbestos materials on building sites which can now be exposed when digging, gardening or redeveloping land.


In many coastal regions ‘weekenders’ were often built from fibro (bonded asbestos cement sheeting) as low-cost holiday homes. In rural settings many buildings were constructed from fibro as a cost-effective means of housing farm equipment and stock. It was also widely used to construct ‘sleep-out’ additions to farmhouses and workers accommodation.


Professor Nico van Zandwijk, Director of the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute said, “Statistics are suggesting that an increasing number of mesothelioma victims were exposed to asbestos fibres in non-occupational settings such as home renovation and maintenance including women and children.” 


Mr Dunphy said, “No one can tell if a product contains asbestos just by looking at it. Only scientific testing by an accredited National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) can confirm if asbestos is present. If people aren’t sure if a product contains asbestos they should treat it as if it is asbestos and take all the necessary precautions to protect themselves and families. However, to be sure if asbestos is in homes, owners can have properties inspected by a licenced removalist or a licensed asbestos assessor to confirm if asbestos products are present.  


“If in good condition and left undisturbed, asbestos generally doesn’t pose a health risk. However, with the aging of homes, the popularity of DIY, renovating, knock-down-rebuild and with the redevelopment of old fibro home sites, it’s important that anyone working in or around homes or buildings constructed or renovated before 1987 know the dangers of asbestos and how to manage it safely.”


When homes contain asbestos DIY is not recommended and renovating properties without knowing where asbestos might be located has been likened to playing ‘Renovation Roulette’.


When it comes to asbestos, Don’t play Renovation Roulette! Don’t cut it! Don’t drill it!  Don’t drop 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! Don’t demolish it! And whatever you do...  Don’t dump it!


“Tradespeople who come into direct contact with products that may contain asbestos every day of their working life are particularly vulnerable and need to be doubly aware of the risks and safe management practices of working with asbestos. Tradies need to stop playing Renovation Roulette and Get to kNOw Asbestos this November by visiting because it’s not worth the risk!” he said.


During NOvember Australians are encouraged to host a Blue Lamington Drive morning or afternoon tea at home or at work to help raise awareness of the current dangers of asbestos while raising vital funds for medical research and support services for sufferers of asbestos-related diseases.

  • Get to kNOw asbestos this NOvember, visit
  • Register a Blue Lamington Drive morning or afternoon tea, visit





Insight Communications - 02 9518 4744

Clare Collins 0414 821 957 - [email protected]

Alice Collins 0414 686 091 - [email protected]

Interviews are available with a variety of spokespersons including: Peter Dunphy, Professor Nico van Zandwijk, case studies and Asbestos Awareness ambassadors; Cherie Barber, Don Burke, Scott Cam, John Jarratt and Scott McGregor.


References are included in the detailed Journalist Notes on page 9 of this release. * Full medical term: malignant mesothelioma


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Clare Collins or Alice Collins

P: 02 9518 4744
M: +61414821957


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




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