In keeping with the theme of last week’s blog, today’s topic is all about the dangers of asbestos. It’s November, and that means it’s Asbestos Awareness Month! This is a particularly pertinent issue for Australians because we have one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world, according to Asbestos Awareness.
Before we get down to business, it’s time for a little backstory on asbestos. One of the only places in Australia that produced blue asbestos was a small mining town called Wittenoom in Western Australia. The roads of Wittenoom were paved with asbestos, and the thriving town literally lived and breathed it every day. By 1961, a former Wittenoom miner was diagnosed with mesothelioma (an asbestos-related disease) and died, becoming the first of more than three hundred former mine workers to die of the disease, reported ABC News.
Today, Wittenoom is (almost) a ghost town. The Western Australian Government recommends avoiding the area and no longer recognises Wittenoon as a town. Electricity has been cut off, mail deliveries stopped and police patrols halted, reported The Age. But amazingly, Wittenoom has a grand population of three people, who refuse to evacuate their homes.
Now to business. Asbestos is a serious danger in the construction and engineering industry. It’s not just tradies, builders and engineers that need to be aware of the dangers of asbestos in our homes and buildings, but all Australians. Many people wrongly believe that only fibro homes contain asbestos. In fact, asbestos products can be found in any Australian home built or renovated before 1987. This includes brick, weatherboard, fibro and clad homes.
The fact is that one in three Aussie homes contains asbestos. If you’re renovating this summer, check out this healthy house checklist to help you identify asbestos products and safely mange them. You can also check out the Australian Government’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency FAQ page.
Words by Skye Jamieson