Despite the phasing out of asbestos use in Australia towards the end of the 1980s and its total ban in 2003, many homes in Australia still contain remnants of asbestos-based products. From the 1940s, asbestos was used commonly in cement products (such as fibro sheeting, pipes and gutters), as well as in insulation and soundproofing materials.
Although certain parts of Australia have undergone clean-up programs, there is no doubt that asbestos is still present in a large number of homes.
This is alarming considering the toxicity of asbestos. When air-borne asbestos fibres are breathed in, they are potentially hazardous. Such exposure to asbestos is a known cause of diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and other respiratory diseases.
Studies have shown that do-it-yourself home renovators are increasingly at risk, with growing numbers of diagnoses of malignant mesothelioma for this group. They warn of a ‘third-wave’ of mesothelioma victims. This group is more likely to have had a short-term and/or low-level exposure to products containing asbestos. The group is also expected to have a shorter latency period between exposure and diagnosis of mesothelioma.
As such, it is important that home-owners in Australia are aware of the dangers of asbestos. To stay protected, it is important to have a trained asbestos professional inspect any suspicious materials, and have them removed properly and safely. While mesothelioma is treatable through means such as surgery and chemotherapy, there is no known cure. For those who suffer mesothelioma, they may be able to receive mesothelioma compensation in Australia.