Don’t Play Renovation Roulette!  Get to kNOw Asbestos this NOvember – National asbestos awareness month!

Melbourne, November 15: In an initiative of the Asbestos Education Committee working throughout November during the National Asbestos Awareness Month Campaign; it is educating homeowners, renovators, handymen and tradespeople about the dangers of asbestos and how to manage it safely.

Asbestos is not only found in fibro homes. Asbestos-containing products are still found in 1 in 3 brick, weatherboard, fibro or clad homes built or renovated before 1987.

Australia was then, among one of the largest consumers of asbestos-containing materials in the world.

It could be anywhere!

Under floor coverings including 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 structures, chook sheds and even dog kennels.

Without knowing where these types of asbestos-containing products might be located or how to manage and dispose of asbestos safely, Australian’s play a risky game of ‘Renovation Roulette’ if they disturb asbestos-containing materials and release fibres that can be inhaled which may cause asbestos-related diseases including malignant mesothelioma.

According to John Jarratt, Ambassador, Asbestos Awareness Month Campaign, “there is no cure for mesothelioma, a cancer that can develop between 20-50 years after inhaling asbestos fibres – the average survival time is just 10-12 months following diagnosis.

“Inhaling asbestos fibres can also cause lung cancer, asbestosis and benign pleural disease.

“Because there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres, it’s extremely important for all Australians to safely manage asbestos-containing materials that might be found in and around their homes.

With the aim of stopping Australian’s from playing ‘Renovation Roulette’ and putting their health and the health of families at risk, now more than ever homeowners, renovators, tradies and handymen are being urged to Get to kNOw Asbestos this NOvember.

Asbestos Safety Check:

Handling Asbestos by licensed personnel only - Awareness this November
Handling Asbestos by licensed personnel onlyAwareness this November
  1. If asbestos is disturbed during renovations or maintenance, your health and the health of your family could be at risk.
  2. If you’re not sure whether asbestos is in your home you can have it inspected by a licenced removalist or a licensed asbestos assessor.
  3. Products made from asbestos cement include fibro sheeting (flat and corrugated), water, drainage and flue pipes, roofing shingles, guttering and floor and wall coverings. It could be anywhere!
  4. If you find asbestos in your home; 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!”
  5. There are legal requirements regarding asbestos management, its removal and disposal.
  6. If left undisturbed asbestos materials in good, stable condition are unlikely to release dangerous fibres and pose a health risk. Paint it and leave it alone but remember to check occasionally for any signs of wear and tear.
  7. If you must work with any material that may contain asbestos or remove asbestos yourself, protect yourself and your family and follow the legal and safety requirements for the management of asbestos to minimise the release of dust or small particles from the asbestos materials.
  8. There are a number of safety precautions needed including wearing specific protective clothing, the correct mask or breathing apparatus and ensure you minimise dust and dispose of asbestos legally.
  9. Never use tools on asbestos materials as they will make asbestos fibres airborne including:
  10. Power tools such as electric drills, angle grinders, circular saws and electric sanders.
  11. Never use high pressure water blasters or compressed air.

You can easily search for and identify the sorts of products to look for and how to manage and dispose of asbestos safely, without any exposure to the dangerous asbestos fibres.

Australia’s National Asbestos Awareness Month campaign is in partnership with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute and supported by the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities.

Shalini Singh

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