The Asbestos Disease Support Society is calling for greater awareness of the risks of exposure to asbestos. A report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare highlights that asbestos related disease is still impacting the community. The report, Mesothelioma in Australia 2019, shows 659 Australians were diagnosed with the incurable mesothelioma, as at 1 April 2020.
ADSS General Manager, Trevor Torrens said the aftermath of asbestos is still being felt across the community, with 64 members of ADSS dying in 2019 because of exposure to asbestos decades before. “Just this year alone, more than 38 of members have succumbed to an asbestos related disease, predominantly mesothelioma. All they did was turn up to work to earn a living or just went about their daily lives.” Mr Torrens said.
“Unfortunately, we are still seeing the fall out of people who worked with asbestos containing products like fibro, brake linings and lagging on pipes prior to the Australia-wide ban on products containing asbestos in 2003”
“We also have strong concerns about a new wave of exposure to home renovators. My message to DIY renovators is don’t take the risk – educate yourself on where asbestos may be lurking in your home and engage a professional to deal with it appropriately before you begin your work. You can’t undo the exposure”, Mr Torrens said.
About one third of homes built between 1945 and the late 1980’s are likely to contain some form of asbestos building product. If disturbed, without adequate precautions, the asbestos fibres are released into the atmosphere and inhaled.
While there is no cure for mesothelioma, Mr Torrens also welcomed the data that indicated an increase in survival rates for people diagnosed with mesothelioma, which may be attributed to earlier detection or improved treatment options.
Mesothelioma is an extremely painful malignancy of the outer lining of the lung or the abdominal cavity that forms as a result of exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibres. Asbestos fibres are around 200 times thinner than a human hair, can be invisible and be inhaled easily. They can become trapped deep in the lungs and cause damage over a long time. Past exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. It can take many years for mesothelioma to develop after a person is exposed to asbestos – the latency period, which is commonly 30 to 40 years after exposure.