Ballarat renovators at risk from exposure to asbestos

AS many as 60 per cent of Ballarat’s renovators could be exposed to asbestos particles with most homes built before 1985 likely to contain the deadly substance. 

With National Asbestos Awareness Week under way in Australia, experts are reminding renovators to avoid becoming part of a third wave of asbestos-related diseases caused by inhaling asbestos fibres while renovating. 

A new study found that one in three homes in communities including Ballarat contain asbestos, with 38 per cent of renovators likely to cut through asbestos sheeting with power tools. 

The study conducted by the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute also found that 50 per cent of renovators put children and family members at risk. 

Sold until the 1980s, products made from asbestos include fibro sheeting, water pipes, drainage, roofing and guttering. 

Craig Sodomaco of Ballarat and District Asbestos Removals said commercial and residential properties across the region contained asbestos.

“Basically any house or factory built between the 1920s and 1985 will have some form of asbestos in them,” he said. 

“At the end of the day there is a lot of risk as you only need one fibre to do damage which can last forever. Home renovators sometimes don’t realise there is asbestos in their property and have to call for help when they find it during renovations.” 

Mr Sodomaco said home owners should get quotes for professional asbestos removal before undertaking renovation works. 

Asbestos Diseases Research Institute director Nico van Zandwijk said the dangers of asbestos fibres in the air could not be overstated. 

“With DIY renovations increasing because of the popularity of home renovation and lifestyle television programs and magazines, those thinking about renovating or home maintenance should learn where asbestos can be found in the home and how best to manage it,” he said. 

“For every mesothelioma case there are at least two lung cancer cases caused by asbestos.

“The realisation that their disease might have been prevented makes asbestos victims extra sad and angry.” 

Professor van Zandwijk said when left undisturbed asbestos generally did not pose a health risk but nearly 10 per cent of mesothelioma cases involved home renovators. 

The City of Ballarat has a health and safety guide to asbestos for homeowners and renovators available at

www.ballarat.vic.gov.au.

thomas.mcilroy@thecourier.com.au

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