Renovators playing Russian roulette with asbestos
Renovators playing Russian roulette with asbestos

Experts have warned that home renovators are not undertaking proper precautions with asbestos and are not only putting themselves at risk, but their families as well.

While it is no longer manufactured in Australia, asbestos remains a sleeping giant in a third of the nation’s homes.

There are fears a new generation of ‘do-it-yourself’ renovators has no idea what they are disturbing.

“A lot of young people are doing this and they need to know what they are dealing with,” asbestos removalist Wendy Tredinnick said.

Terry Miller from the Asbestos Victims Association was diagnosed with asbestosis almost a decade ago after working at James Hardie’s factory in Adelaide’s northern suburbs for 20 years.

His wife died 15 years ago from an asbestos-related lung disease.

She had never worked with the material, but was regularly washing fibres out of her husband’s clothes.

“You don’t need much exposure,” Mr Miller said.

“It’s not just the person doing the job, it could be one of their kids crawling on the floor, could be the wife breathing it in.”

A survey of 1500 home renovators in New South Wales found only 12 per cent regularly wore respiratory devices – a trend experts say reflects the country.

“Hardly a week goes by here that we don’t get a phone call from someone saying ‘we just started doing this and pulled a sheet off the bathroom wall and there’s asbestos stickers on the back’,” Ms Tredinnick said.

Asbestos can be found under floor coverings, particularly on the back of lino, behind walls and even as insulation in ceilings.

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Renovators playing Russian roulette with asbestos