Be aware of asbestos dangers

02 November 2015

We are supporting Asbestos Awareness Month in November and urge residents to be alert to the dangers of working with asbestos during home renovations and maintenance.

Residents are urged to visit to do a safety check and learn how to safely manage materials containing asbestos.

Mayor Henk van de Ven recently found asbestos in the ceiling at his workplace and knew what to do because of Asbestos Awareness Month last year.

Cr van de Ven last year visited "Betty" - a mobile home designed to demonstrate where asbestos might be found in and around any premises built or renovated before 1987.

"I recently wanted to do improvements to my work premises and found asbestos and knew I needed to make special provisions to handle it," he said. "So it is everywhere!"

Cr van de Ven had intended to paint the ceiling but recognised it was asbestos so called in experts and a false ceiling was installed to block off the material. 

Every home built before the mid-1980s is likely to contain asbestos. If left undisturbed, asbestos generally does not pose a health risk.

When disturbed during home maintenance and DIY projects, asbestos fibres can be released into the air. When inhaled, asbestos fibres can cause life-threatening diseases including cancer, pleural disease and mesothelioma.

Cr van de Ven said one in three Australian homes contain asbestos in some form or another.

"With the popularity of home renovation programs rising inspiring an ongoing boom in renovations, now more than ever before we want all homeowners, renovators, tradies and handymen to learn how to protect themselves and their families from dangerous asbestos fibres," he said.

Chair of the Asbestos Education Committee Peter Dunphy said: "Without knowing where these products might be found in homes, people are playing 'Renovation Roulette' and putting their health and the health of families at risk. 

"It could be anywhere! Under floor coverings such as carpets, linoleum and vinyl tiles, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, ceilings and ceiling space (insulation), eaves, garages, roofs, around hot water pipes, fences, extensions to homes, garages, outdoor toilets, backyard and farm sheds, chook sheds and even dog kennels." 

Mr Dunphy urged residents to visit to learn how to identify the sorts of products to look for, the locations of where they might be found and learn how to manage it and dispose of it safely.

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