DIY renovators the next casualties of asbestos

November 22, 2010

Australian DIY enthusiasts could be putting themselves at risk of developing the asbestos-induced cancer, mesothelioma.

Experts say the general public and in particular DIY renovators will be the next group of people to be at risk of developing the disease. Cases are on the rise and are set to peak at around 18,000 by 2020.

Now a team of Murdoch University academics have developed an online resource called the Australian Asbestos Network. The resource aims to increase awareness of asbestos in our surroundings and reduce the number of people at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases.

One of Murdoch’s Chief Investigators on the project, Associate Professor Gail Phillips, said the resource was created in collaboration with medical and public health researchers and was the first online resource of its kind – developed to give comprehensive, authoritative and independently authenticated medical, public health and historical information about asbestos and its related diseases.

“While asbestos is dangerous, we want to assure the public that with the right knowledge and preparation, they can reduce their risk from potentially harmful exposure,” Prof Phillips said.

“The website includes a DIY Renovators’ Guide which amongst other things, gives tips on how to recognise asbestos in your home, how to handle it and how to dispose of it safely.

“It also includes an extensive archive full of fascinating historical imagery and documentation, a series of personal stories told by the people affected by asbestos and a comprehensive list of links to key resources in each State and Territory.”

The Australian Asbestos Network online resource has been made possible by a government grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council because it addresses an important public health issue.

It was developed by researchers in journalism, history and public relations from Murdoch University, in close collaboration with experts in the medical and public health fields from the University of Western Australia and Curtin University, advocates and legal practitioners, as well as those directly affected by asbestos, such as workers, families and carers.

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