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Group calls for mandatory asbestos inspections

November 20th, 2006

Asbestos victims in Australia are calling for new laws which would require mandatory asbestos inspections for any renovations to buildings built before 1984. Barry Robson, president of the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia, says that the Kogarah Council near Sydney has already made these asbestos inspections mandatory and is calling for other areas of Australia to follow its lead.

The need for mandatory inspections is high, Robson says, because of the health risks that asbestos can pose when it is disturbed during building renovations. While the asbestos insulation that was once commonly used in homes is relatively safe if left undisturbed, renovations can cause the asbestos in the walls and ceiling of a house to become airborne in the form of tiny fibers. When airborne asbestos is inhaled, it can cause mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that is almost always fatal within one to five years.

Robson says that the dangers posed by asbestos insulation are widespread and likely to grow worse as the buildings it is in deteriorate with age. “There are hundreds of thousands of corrugated cement roofs throughout Sydney and especially in the western suburbs,” he says. “They are now over 20 years old and are deteriorating and releasing lethal asbestos fibers.”

Robson and the ADFA are hopeful that a recent settlement with the James Hardie company to compensate victims of asbestos exposure, especially those who have received a mesothelioma diagnosis, will bolster their efforts to make asbestos inspections mandatory across Australia.

Robson’s says that he also hopes that the group’s campaign will help to educate the Australian public about the dangers of asbestos exposure and the risk it poses for causing mesothelioma symptoms. “Experts say that by 2020 there will be 13,000 cases of mesothelioma and up to 40,000 cases of asbestos-related lung cancer,” he says.

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