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The surprising new victims of asbestos poisoning

BY DIONNE LISTER

Asbestos is a deadly product we are all aware of, so why are we still falling prey to its effects? There are three types of asbestos (blue, brown and white), which were widely used in building products between 1945 and 1987 because it was waterproof, fireproof, durable, light and a good insulator. It was used in many applications including fibrous cement wall cladding, roofing, flooring, pipes, insulation, roof tiles and even paint, however due to its toxicity it is now banned in Australia. The danger we now face comes from home renovations. Many average Australians who didn’t know they were at risk are now being diagnosed with asbestos related illnesses that include benign pleural disease, lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Personally, I didn’t expect to be in danger if I was renovating a 1970s or ‘80s home, but the danger is there. Home renovators and office workers present during office renovations are the new victims of this deadly mineral and won’t know it until many years later, as the symptoms take time to develop, and by then it is usually too late.

My warning to you is expect you will come across asbestos if you are doing a renovation and wear appropriate protective clothing including gloves and especially face masks as it is through breathing it in that harm is done. If it is obviously present, as wall cladding for example, then experts need to be called in to remove it by adhering to the Australian safety standards, which may include covering the area to be demolished/removed and hosing the walls down to minimize dust particles. The silent danger of not knowing if it is in your insulation or flooring should mean you take extreme caution when renovating and be sure to clean up any dust.

Protect yourself and your family and if in doubt seek a professional opinion from an assessor such as http://www.safeenvironments.com.au/asbestos-check/. Safe renovating is happy renovating, be safe and stay healthy.

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