Most diseases that have plagued Australians over the years have yielded to advances in medical science and health care. But asbestos-related cancers, which develop long after exposure, continue to be fatal for thousands of people in Australia every year.
The history of asbestos
Asbestos was once considered a wonder product. It is water resistant, durable, heat resistant, cheap and easy to use. It is also a relatively abundant natural resource in Australia.
Many decades ago, asbestos dust was linked to the death of workers in the mining and construction industries, and concerns about its health risks began to surface.
Asbestos is now recognised as one of the most dangerous minerals in the world. It becomes lethal when it is disturbed, releasing fibres into the air. These dust fibres get lodged in the lung and can cause serious health conditions such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, which can take 20-50 years to develop.
The impact of asbestos in Australia
We are still seeing the devastating impact of asbestos in Australia with about 600 people diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, and about 4,000 people dying each year from asbestos-related diseases.
Despite extensive literature highlighting the dangers of the deadly product, there are still concerns regarding the lack of safeguards and preventive measures currently in place.
Unfortunately we are now seeing an increasing number of cases involving home renovators and bystanders exposed while in the vicinity of demolition and construction works, opposed to traditional cases involving workers directly using the substance in the course of their work.
Asbestos in your home
By some estimates, as many as 1 in 3 Australian houses built or renovated prior to 1990 contain asbestos in some form.
It is commonly found in the lining of wet areas including in the bathroom, toilet, kitchen and laundry. Asbestos piping and flues were also used for hot water services and heaters.
Asbestos cement sheets (or AC sheets) were also used for eaves, lean-tos, sheds and carports. Some homes are entirely constructed of AC sheeting. Others are externally clad with asbestos decorative products or sheets.
What should I do if there is asbestos in my home?
If you suspect there could be asbestos in your home, do not perform any activities which could disturb or damage these materials. If the materials are damaged, or in bad condition, you should stay away from them until you have had it properly assessed or disposed of.
It is best to hire licenced asbestos removalists to assess and remove any asbestos. This may be expensive, but it is the best way to ensure that the materials are removed and disposed of safely, and to provide peace of mind to you and your loved ones.
What should I do if I have been exposed?
It’s important to remember that not everyone that is exposed to asbestos gets an asbestos-related disease.
If you think you have been exposed to asbestos, you can register your exposure on our National asbestos, dust, fumes and chemicals database. Regardless of how long ago it was, registering your exposure can help any future claims for compensation. Registration is free and obligation-free.
You can’t make a claim for compensation unless you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition.
What should I do if I know someone who is diagnosed with an asbestos disease?
If a person has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition, they may have compensation entitlements and should contact us for more information.
We have a dedicated team of lawyers who specialise in asbestos disease claims. We are here to ensure our clients get a fair outcome while ensuring the legal process is stress-free.
Australian Government’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency
Asbestos Awareness Campaign
Bernie Banton Foundation - Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related support Australia