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National Asbestos Awareness Week (22-28 November). Know the risks and be aware

Published on 22 November 2021
Categories:
  • Community safety
Danger Asbestos hazard tape

Do-it-yourself (DIY) home renovators and tradespeople are being reminded of the critical importance of being asbestos aware during this month’s National Asbestos Awareness Week, from 22 to 28 November.

This year’s National Asbestos Awareness Week campaign asks Australians to ‘Think Twice About Asbestos’. The campaign challenges complacency by reminding home renovators and tradespeople that the danger of asbestos is far from over.

Council is strongly urging anyone thinking about a DIY renovation or home improvements to make sure an Asbestos 20-Point Safety Check forms part of their checklist before attempting any works.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen and inhaling asbestos dust and fibres can lead to life-threatening diseases including mesothelioma, asbestosis, benign pleural disease and lung cancer. Asbestos-related diseases account for approximately 4000 deaths a year.

Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Maroondah Liveability, Safety and Amenity Committee, Cr Rob Steane, said that according to latest research, one in five DIYers had encountered asbestos, but only half sought any kind of professional help to deal with it.

Findings by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) also found a third admitted to disposing of the asbestos improperly.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have used the time in lockdown to carry out or plan for home improvements and maintenance. What they may not know is that this work could be putting their health and that of others at risk,” Cr Steane said.

“At least 1 in 3 Australian homes contain asbestos including brick, weatherboard, fibro and clad homes and apartments, and if your home was built or renovated before 1990, there’s a good chance that asbestos-containing materials will be present,” he said.

“Asbestos materials are still commonly found in bathrooms, laundries and kitchens as well as behind tiles and under flooring, and asbestos fibres can be easily disturbed when carrying out home improvements, demolition and building work.

“Just like plumbing and electrical work, asbestos removal - or jobs around the home that might uncover asbestos - are jobs best left to the experts,” Cr Steane said.

Australia has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases in the world due to the country’s past heavy use of asbestos products.

Asbestos was widely used in the manufacture of building materials and other products prior to being phased out by 1990 and banned in 2003.

For homes that were built or renovated prior to 1987, it is highly likely they contain products incorporating asbestos.

“When renovating or working in and around the home, if in doubt assume asbestos materials are present and take every precaution. If you’re not sure if asbestos is in your home, you can have it inspected by a licenced removalist or a licensed asbestos assessor,” Cr Steane said.

Products made from asbestos cement include fibro sheeting (flat and corrugated), water drainage and flue pipes, roofing shingles, guttering and floor and wall coverings.

“There is still a high volume of asbestos-containing building products used prior to 1990 which remain hidden dangers in homes and in buildings such as garages, so it’s critical that all Australians become asbestos aware,” Cr Steane said.

Further information

To complete the 20-point safety check and find out more about asbestos in and around the home, visit asbestosawareness.com.au or phone 1300 326 148.

For products containing asbestos, visit the Asbestos Products Database. The database is Australia’s first comprehensive online database to assist homeowners, renovators, tradespeople and some industries to identify asbestos-containing materials so they can be managed safely.

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