Home renovators get to know asbestos

December 10, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the course would provide vital information to help protect home renovators from exposure to the deadly substance.

"Even short-term or occasional exposure to asbestos fibres can cause mesothelioma and other fatal cancers," Ms Clift said.

"Alarmingly, Queensland's home-renovation boom could see a future increase in asbestos-related diseases - if renovators don't follow recommendations.

"Buildings built before 1990 in Queensland could contain asbestos, but many home renovators do not know how to handle it safely."

A report tabled in Queensland Parliament earlier this year found incidents of mesothelioma were expected to peak from 2013 to 2021.

"When breathed in, asbestos fibres raise a person's risk of asbestosis, lung, larynx and ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other diseases of the lungs and stomach," Ms Clift said.

"And while many renovators may feel fine today, asbestos-related illness and disease can take between 10 and 40 years to develop."

In 2010, 640 deaths in Australia were caused by asbestos. In Queensland alone, 120 men and 27 women were diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2010.

"It is vitally important that Queenslanders educate themselves about the risks of asbestos exposure and participate in this course if they are planning home renovations," Ms Clift said.

"Australia has the highest per capita incidence of mesothelioma in the world and it's estimated that up to 18,000 Australians are likely to die from this disease by 2020."

Less than half of Queenslanders diagnosed with mesothelioma survive for at least a year after diagnosis (45%), and only 4 per cent of people diagnosed with mesothelioma will survive for at least five years after diagnosis.

The online learning course, 'kNOw asbestos in your home', educates DIY renovators about identifying and handling asbestos.

"If you are going to attempt to handle asbestos yourself, this course will give you the confidence to do it safely and minimise the risk to you and your family," Ms Clift said.

"It will make renovators aware of jobs that should be handled by a licensed and qualified professional.

"It is essential to seek professional advice before starting home renovations in order to protect against asbestos-related illness and disease.

"Asbestos is a hazardous substance. We encourage all DIY renovators to use a licensed and registered asbestos removalist for any amount over 10m2."

'kNOw asbestos in the workplace' is available now at eLearning.cancer.org.au.

Visit www.health.qld.gov.au/asbestos and www.deir.qld.gov.au/asbestos/ for guidance to work safely with asbestos in Queensland.

For more information on Asbestos Awareness visit www.asbestosawareness.com.au.

For more information about Cancer Council Queensland, visit www.cancerqld.org.au or call the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.