Port Stephens Council is throwing its support behind Asbestos Awareness Month, which aims to educate Australians about the dangers of asbestos in and around homes.
Conducted by the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI), the centrepiece of Council’s support this month will be a visit by “Betty” ‚Äì a mobile information van ‚Äì to Bunnings Warehouse, Taylor’s Beach, on Saturday 30 November.
Mike McIntosh, Council’s Group Manager of Development Services explains the importance of Asbestos Awareness.
“Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos related diseases in the world and Council has an important role to play in making residents aware of the dangers,” Mike said.
“As highlighted in the aftermath of the recent bushfires around Port Stephens, asbestos exposure can happen when you least expect it.”
“But it’s not just times of natural disaster where exposure can occur. Research tells us that the act of do-it-yourself renovations and maintenance is responsible for a large proportion of asbestos exposure today.”
“With structures built before the mid 1980s likely to contain asbestos in some form, people really need to think safety first.”
Asbestos is a known carcinogen and the inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and asbestos related pleural disease.
If left undisturbed, in non-friable or in situ form, asbestos generally does not pose a health risk. However, when disturbed (made friable) during renovation, demolition, or in times of natural disaster, asbestos particles can become airborne and in a lot of cases respirable.
With a median gap of 40 years between exposure and diagnosis, the importance of education about the dangers of asbestos to homeowners and those who frequent public facilities cannot be overstated.
“Asbestos can be found in every type of structure,” Mike added. “It’s not just fibro cladding, it was commonly used in roofing, guttering, in drainage and flue pipes, even in sheds and outhouses.
“Anyone considering renovation, demolition, or general maintenance on a structure built before the late 1980s is urged to consult with a licensed asbestos removalist prior to commencing work.”
Port Stephens Councillors will be presented with a new draft Asbestos Management Policy during Asbestos Awareness Month.