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Don’t Play Renovation Roulette! – Get to kNOw Asbestos this NOvember!

Nov 18, 2016 | Front Page Feature, News

NOvember Is National Asbestos Awareness Month – Asbestos Awareness Day is Friday 25 NOvember 2016… 


“When it comes to asbestos, don’t play Renovation Roulette! Don’t cut it! Don’t drill it! Don’t drop it!  Don’t sand it! Don’t saw it! Don’t scrape it! Don’t scrub it! Don’t dismantle it! Don’t tip it! Don’t waterblast it! Don’t demolish it! And whatever you do…  Don’t dump it!” (Peter Dunphy Founding Chair of the Asbestos Education Committee)

 There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres. During national Asbestos Awareness Month North Burnett Regional Council is calling on members to Get to kNOw Asbestos this NOvember by visiting to learn how to identify and safely manage asbestos-containing materials commonly found in and around homes.

According to a report published by the Australian Mesothelioma Register, Australia has one of the highest incidence rates of malignant mesothelioma in the world.

Mayor Rachel Chambers said, “Those affected by asbestos-related diseases will continue to increase unless we all take the warnings about asbestos in homes and on properties seriously and learn how to manage these materials and dispose of them safely.

“The facts are that 1 in 3 Australian homes contain asbestos in some form or another. With the popularity of home renovation programs fuelling a boom in home renovations, now more than ever all homeowners, renovators, tradies and handymen need to make it their business to Get to kNOw Asbestos by visiting to learn how to protect themselves and families from the known lethal effects of asbestos fibres,” Mayor Chambers said.

An initiative of the Asbestos Education Committee working in partnership with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute and supported by the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities, Australia’s leading National Asbestos Awareness Month Campaign throughout November educates homeowners, renovators, handymen and tradespeople about the dangers of asbestos and how to manage it safely.

Peter Dunphy Founding Chair of the Asbestos Education Committee heading the national Asbestos Awareness Month campaign said, “Asbestos is not only found in fibro homes. Australia was among one of the largest consumers of asbestos-containing materials in the world with asbestos-containing products still found in 1 in 3 brick, weatherboard, fibro or clad homes built or renovated before 1987.

“Asbestos was used in the manufacture of a broad range of products. It could be anywhere! Under floor coverings including carpets, linoleum and vinyl tiles, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, ceilings and ceiling space (insulation), eaves, garages, roofs, around hot water pipes, fences, extensions to homes, garages, outdoor toilets, backyard and farm structures, chook sheds and even dog kennels.

“In addition to the 20 Point Safety Check, offers two more Australian firsts for homeowners, renovators and tradies in asbestos awareness and education; Australia’s only comprehensive online asbestos product database and; an education video, ‘Asbestos In Your Home: The Ultimate Renovator’s Guide’.  

“By visiting people will be able to easily search to identify the sorts of products to look for, locations where they might be found and learn how to manage and dispose of asbestos safely,” he said.

 Without knowing where these types of asbestos-containing products might be located or how to manage and dispose of asbestos safely, Australian’s play a risky game of ‘Renovation Roulette’ if they disturb asbestos-containing materials and release fibres that can be inhaled which may cause asbestos-related diseases including malignant mesothelioma.

There is no cure for mesothelioma, a cancer that can develop between 20-50 years after inhaling asbestos fibres – the average survival time is just 10-12 months following diagnosis.  Inhaling asbestos fibres can also cause lung cancer, asbestosis and benign pleural disease. Because there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres, it’s extremely important for all Australians to safely manage asbestos-containing materials that might be found in and around their homes.

With the aim of stopping Australian’s from playing ‘Renovation Roulette’ and putting their health and the health of families at risk, now more than ever homeowners, renovators, tradies and handymen need to Get to kNOw Asbestos this NOvember.

“Thanks to North Burnett Regional Council encouraging homeowners, renovators, tradesmen and handymen to visit, more Australians will be able to identify asbestos-containing products and learn how to manage them safely,” Mr Dunphy said.

Prior to 1987, many homes were constructed from low-cost fibro (bonded asbestos cement sheeting) to meet the growing demand for housing and it was common practice for builders and labourers to bury broken pieces of asbestos materials on building sites which can now be exposed when digging, gardening or redeveloping properties or land.

Fibro was also commonly used when building garages to house the new family car, to build Dad’s shed and when adding extensions to existing brick or weatherboard homes such as family rooms while ‘weekenders’ or ‘shacks’ were often built from fibro as low-cost holiday homes.

In rural settings many farm buildings were constructed from fibro as a cost-effective means of housing equipment and stock and it was also widely used to construct ‘sleep-out’ additions to farmhouses, workers accommodation and community housing throughout much of regional Australia.

“If left undisturbed and well-maintained asbestos-containing products generally don’t pose a health risk. However, if these products are disturbed and fibres are released during a renovation, a knock-down-rebuild or the redevelopment of an old fibro home site, this is when health risks can occur,” Mr Dunphy said.

“While renovators and their families are at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres, tradespeople are particularly vulnerable as they come into contact with products that may contain asbestos every day of their working life and need to be doubly aware of the risks and know safe management practices of working with asbestos.

Australia’s National Asbestos Awareness Month Campaign has been internationally recognised in academic journals (Tom Douglas, Senior Research Fellow University of Oxford) as a world-leading asbestos awareness and education campaign in the prevention of asbestos-related diseases.

During NOvember Australians are encouraged to host a Blue Lamington Drive morning or afternoon tea at home or at work to help raise awareness of the current dangers of asbestos while raising vital funds for medical research and support services for sufferers of asbestos-related diseases.

  • Get to kNOw asbestos this NOvember, visit
  • Register a Blue Lamington Drive morning or afternoon tea, visit
  • Make a donation to support research conducted by the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute

Media Release courtesy of the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute.