IN Orange as part of a NSW central west regional tour, the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute house dubbed Betty is making waves in an attempt to help prevent the effects of others.
Launched in November as part of Asbestos Awareness Week, Betty’s primary objective is to demonstrate to residents the multiple locations asbestos might be found in and around the home, particularly in homes built or renovated before 1987.
Essentially, Betty’s presence is about prevention.
Asbestos-related diseases like mesotheliomas have so far arrived in two waves.
Exposure to raw fibres in the mining and manufacturing process is the first wave, with workers who used asbestos products in the workplace the second.
It’s the third wave those involved with Betty are hoping to prevent.
And for good reason, too.
“The third wave they say is going to be bigger than anything,” ADRI spokeswoman Clare Collins said.
“And that’s renovators, because they just go willy-nilly and drill a hole.
“That’s what’s motivated this, trying to stop people from unsafe practice when they’re renovating their house.”
Ripping up lino tiles, tearing down wallpaper, removing downpipes or guttering, power boards, old hot water systems, drilling through or removing old concrete and ceiling insulation, asbestos can be found in just about every facet of a pre-1987 built home.
“There wouldn’t be many houses it wouldn’t be in,” Mick Banks, president of the central west division of the Master Builders Association, said.
Mr Banks believes knowledge is power.
“A lot of builders have a fair idea of the common stuff, but it’s the handyman that doesn’t really understand where it is,” he said.
“New houses these days are safe from it, it’s mainly the renovating guys that haven’t had a lot to do with it.”
Ms Collins had some simple advice for people unsure if their house is affected.
“If you’re not sure, assume asbestos is there,” she said.
“There is no safe level of asbestos, that’s what we know.
“It could be one fibre, it could be 100 fibres ... there’s no safe level.”
Ms Collins said the best thing you could do is visit their website asbestosawareness.com.au.
Key facts about asbestos and the home
1. If your home was built or renovated before the mid-1980s, it most likely contains asbestos.
2. At least one in three Australian homes contains asbestos.
3. If asbestos is left undisturbed it generally does not pose a health risk.
4. Many Australians may unknowingly be putting their health and the health of their children, and neighbours, at risk because they don’t really understand the dangers of working with asbestos or know where it might be found in and around their home.
5. During renovations or the demolition of homes containing asbestos, asbestos fibres can be released into the air and be inhaled leading to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Inhaled fibres increase the risk of developing malignant mesothelioma or lung cancer.