Asbestos is a general term for a group of naturally occurring minerals. Asbestos minerals can be separated into strong, very fine fibres that are durable, flexible and heat resistant. Because of these qualities, asbestos has been used in many industrial and consumer products, for example, in asbestos cement sheeting (or more commonly known as “fibro”) and also in insulation products.
Asbestos presents a hazard if fibres of a respirable size become airborne and are then inhaled.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Australians have been exposed to asbestos at some time throughout their life. As a result of this exposure, people can and have contracted asbestos conditions.
Workers such as carpenters, laggers, power station workers, waterside workers, labourers, those who were in the Australian Navy and those employed in the asbestos industries represent some of the groups that have been most affected by the dangerous effects of asbestos. However, cases of mesothelioma also occur in persons exposed to very small quantities of asbestos, including home renovators and office workers.
The dangers of asbestos have been known for many years. Numerous studies and papers have been published from the early 1900’s onwards in respect of its dangers. Unfortunately, the dangers of asbestos were ignored for many years and as a result, there are increasing numbers of people developing asbestos conditions throughout Australia.