Before the dangers of asbestos became widely known, Australia was one of the world’s largest consumers of asbestos-containing materials. Rather alarmingly, products containing asbestos can still be found in one in three brick, weatherboard, fibro, or clad home built or renovated before 1987.

The Asbestos Education Committee – in partnership with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities – urges Australians not to play “renovation roulette”. November has been deemed National Asbestos Awareness Month, and the campaign aims to educate homeowners, renovators, handymen, and tradespeople about the dangers of asbestos and how to manage it safely.

According to the campaign’s official press release, asbestos can be found 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.”

Unless the public knows where these asbestos-containing products might be located, or how to manage and dispose of them safely, they expose themselves to great danger if they disturb asbestos-containing materials.

If tampered with, asbestos-containing materials could release lethal fibres, which can be inhaled and 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.”

The public is encouraged to visit the campaign’s official website ( to learn more about the proper detection, as well as the safe management and disposal of, asbestos. 

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