Asbestos warnings continue to fall on deaf ears

Although at least one Australian dies from asbestos-related diseases every 14 hours, and with deaths predicted to rise due to homeowners and tradies inhaling asbestos fibres when renovating or maintaining properties, tragically the warnings continue to fall on deaf ears.

Some believe that asbestos-related deaths remain buried deep in Australia’s past but this is not the case. Every week, 13 Australians die of asbestos-related diseases – 12 from malignant mesothelioma – and another 13 are diagnosed with this form of cancer.

Managing asbestos safely in all property types to minimise exposure to asbestos fibres and the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases is one of the most important activities anyone can do when it comes to work, health  and safety – whether it’s in a domestic  property or when working on a commercial or non-residential property.

If asbestos is disturbed when renovating and fibres are released and inhaled, this can cause asbestos-related diseases including lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma, which can develop 20-50 years after inhaling fibres. There is no cure and the average survival time after diagnosis is just 10-12 months.

In a study, more than 61 percent of DIY renovators reported asbestos exposure during renovations. Forty percent said partners had been exposed and 23 percent said their children had been exposed – that’s one in four children exposed during DIY renovations.

Asbestos remains in one third of homes including brick, weatherboard, fibro, clad homes and apartments built or renovated before 1987. With asbestos exposure linked to DIY and renovating, the evidence points to an increase in Australians diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.

“With the number of Australians affected predicted to remain high in coming years, instead of ignoring the warnings, homeowners and tradies have a responsibility to learn about the dangers of asbestos and how to manage it safely,” says Professor  Ken Takahashi, director of the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute.

When it comes to asbestos and renovating, GO SLOW! Asbestos is a NO GO! For more information go to