The number of people that are being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in Australia is increasing. Australia already has the highest number of people with mesothelioma in the world, and the number of “third wave” victims is further contributing to this statistic.
The first wave included the miners; the majority of these miners came from the Wittenoom blue asbestos mine which was located in Pilbara, Western Australia. The mine was shut down in 1967, however the legacy of asbestos continues to resonate in our society today. The second wave was comprised of individuals who worked directly with asbestos – such as those who worked in factories, builders, plumbers, electricians or carpenters.
Presently, the number of “third wave” victims is becoming more evident. The third wave includes home renovators and family members of those who worked with asbestos. The recent discovery of asbestos in Telstra’s pits has reiterated the notion that the fight against asbestos is far from over. Despite the fact that the use of asbestos was phased out by the 1980s, and banned entirely in 2004, the long latency period of asbestos means that new cases of mesothelioma will continue to increase every year.
Following public pressure, the Australian government is currently removing asbestos and implementing national plans to deal with the issue at hand. For example, a new Australian Asbestos Safety and Education Agency has been implemented to remove asbestos from governmental and commercial buildings. This national plan also aims to increase asbestos awareness amongst the public and address illegal dumping of the poisonous material.
The number of cases of mesothelioma in Australia means that treatment of mesothelioma in Australia is becoming more of an issue that needs addressing.