Be Aware of Health Risks Relating to Asbestos

National Asbestos Awareness Month
Homeowners, renovators and tradespeople are being reminded of the dangers of asbestos as part of National Asbestos Awareness Month during November.

Published: 2nd November 2022

November is National Asbestos Awareness Month and Mount Isa City Council is urging homeowners, renovators and tradespeople to “respect asbestos, because it’s not worth the risk”.

During National Asbestos Awareness Month, Council aims to increase essential community awareness of the health risks relating to asbestos when renovating, repairing or maintaining properties, particularly as the tradespeople shortage and inflation bites hard.

Concerns are growing that property owners are taking unnecessary risks with asbestos and putting their health at risk while doing DIY work – including renovations, repairs or demolition – around properties.

“With more than 4000 Australians dying every year from preventable asbestos-related diseases, during Asbestos Awareness Month, Council aims to reduce the incidences of avoidable asbestos exposure to prevent asbestos-related diseases to help save lives,” Mayor Danielle Slade said.

“As long as asbestos-containing materials remain in one-third of Australian homes and on regional properties, the significance of this campaign in urging property owners doing DIY repairs, demolition or renovation to heed the warnings and respect the serious dangers of asbestos, cannot be overstated.”

Asbestos was used extensively in the manufacture of more than 3000 building and decorator products that can still be found in brick, fibro, weatherboard, clad homes, apartments or sheds built or renovated before 1990.

If undisturbed, well maintained and in a stable, sealed condition, these products are considered unlikely to pose health risks. However, if disturbed during maintenance, renovation, demolition or if damaged as a result of extreme weather events, invisible fibres are released that can be inhaled. This can lead to asbestos-related diseases including malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and benign pleural disease. 

Clare Collins, Chair of the Asbestos Education Committee said if you need to remove asbestos, only use licensed asbestos removalists.

“Because there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres, without knowing where asbestos might lurk in and around properties or knowing how to manage it safely, people could be risking their health and the health of families and bystanders if they fail to respect asbestos and disturb these hazardous materials,” Ms Collins said.

“The rule is, if your home was built or renovated prior to 1990 and you suspect it contains asbestos, before taking up tools, be sure to engage a licensed asbestos assessor or occupational hygienist to inspect your property.”

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