The rise in the number of natural disaster means we cannot consider bonded asbestos as safe anymore, cancer experts in Perth said in the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia’s Annual Scientific Meeting. The increase in the incidence of floods, earthquakes, cyclones and bushfires have put Australians at a significantly higher risk of asbestos-related diseases, according to submissions to the Asbestos Management Review
They are referring specifically to materials built from 1945 to 1980 which have been destroyed by natural disaster, releasing harmful fibers into the environment.
Review Chairman, Geoff Fary, explained that several of the submissions mention asbestos as still a serious threat to human health because of home renovations and natural disasters.
Mr Fary said:
“The Asbestos Management Review is an initiative by the Australian Government in response to calls for Australia to be asbestos-free by 2030. We have consulted and had input from more than 60 stakeholders representing employment, health and research organizations, federal, state and local government, unions and asbestos disease sufferers and support groups.
“There was widespread consensus on the need to improve removal facilities, creating a consistent approach to removal and increasing public awareness.”
As the number and intensity of natural disasters are expected to rise, Fary said that many experts are concerned about human exposure to asbestos, which among other things, can raise the risk of developing lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Mr Fary said:
“Home renovations are another major issue. An option for the Review is to recommend anyone planning a renovation where asbestos is present to use a licensed asbestos remover.”
Over 600 people in Australia die of mesothelioma annually, Prof. Bogda Koczwara, President of the Clnical Oncological Society of Australia, explained.
“This is a highly lethal cancer with very poor survival,” Professor Koczwara said. “Yet many people don’t realise they are exposing themselves to asbestos when they pull up their lino floors or recover relics from their flooded home.
We need to be doing more to raise awareness and to remove asbestos, especially from areas prone to natural disasters like flooding, earthquake and bushfire.”
Written by Christian Norqvist