Home renovators warned to be asbestos aware

 

She's a wheeled wanderer with a comical name, but Betty the travelling caravan has a deadly serious message.

Her mission is to educate Australians about asbestos in their homes -- particularly those who are planning renovations.

Once widely used as a building material, the use of all forms of asbestos was banned nation-wide in 2003, after research found links between inhaled asbestos fibres and a number of lung diseases, including cancers.

Experts believe one in three Australian homes could still contain asbestos.

Dr Rob Walters says there are no "red flashing lights" to indicate to home-owners where the dangers could lie.

"It just takes a very small amount breathed in to start the disease process," he says.

Organiser Clare Collins says few people know where to look for asbestos in their own home, which is where 'Betty' comes in.  

"What we found is that there was no one website -- no one place where people could access essential information in a user-friendly format," she says.

Actor John Jarratt wants more people to understand the risks.

His friend and fellow actor Harold Hopkins died from mesothelioma in 2011; a type of cancer commonly caused by exposure to asbestos.

"I saw the healthiest person I ever met... turn into a skinny little withering skeleton and die," he says.

To learn more about safe removal of asbestos, visit asbestosawareness.com.au or the relevant authority in your state.

By Greg Navarro

SBS

25/11/2013