DIY renovators warned: One in three homes contain asbestos

2 November 2018
November is Asbestos Awareness Month and a reminder to home renovators about the ongoing dangers of asbestos still hidden in and around Australian homes.

At least one in every three Australian homes contains asbestos and – with a rise in popularity of DIY renovations in recent years – a growing number of people are at risk of being exposed to the potentially deadly material.

“In the past, diagnosis had traditionally been men through work-related exposure,” said Theodora Ahilas, national head of the asbestos and dust diseases practice at Maurice Blackburn.

“But we see a growing number of people – including increasing numbers of women – being diagnosed through non-occupational exposure. One of the biggest danger areas is home renovations, where exposure to asbestos can happen in a very short period of time.”

Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world, due in large to widespread use of asbestos as a building material before 1987.

“If your home was built or renovated before 1987, it will likely contain asbestos. This does not just include fibro properties, but also brick, weatherboard and clad homes,” said Ms Ahilas.

“I sadly still see far too many Australians who have been affected by asbestos-related diseases through avoidable exposure in their own homes.”

Asbestos can be found in internal and external walls, under floor coverings such as carpets, linoleum and vinyl tiles, behind wall and floor tiles and in eaves, garages. It has also been detected around hot water pipes, fences, outdoor toilets, chook pens and backyard sheds.

“Australians must remember, there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres. People need to know the risks and call in the experts if in doubt – whether it’s during renovations, demolitions or when using imported goods which may not include appropriate warnings.”

Ms Ahilas urged anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to asbestos to record the potential exposure through Maurice Blackburn’s online national asbestos register. 

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