Protecting children from renovation asbestos

A national plea has been issues to all parents to protect children and families from exposure to dangerous asbestos fibres during home renovations and maintenance.


The plea has come from Australia’s leading child protection advocate and 2015 Queensland Australian of the Year, Hetty Johnston AM who joined forces with Asbestos Awareness Ambassador, Don Burke OAM and Julie and Don Sager.


“There is nothing more heartbreaking for any parent than to lose a child particularly from a preventable disease so protecting children and families from something that has the potential to kill should be the priority for every Australian,” Ms Johnston said.


Standing alongside Julie and Don Sager, Hetty Johnston said, “The very tragic story of young Adam Sager who developed mesothelioma because he was exposed to asbestos fibres as a toddler sends a disturbing and vitally important message to every parent.


“Please, we must all make it our business to learn the dangers of asbestos and how to manage it safely so we don’t risk exposing ourselves or our children to fibres that can develop into a deadly cancer,” Ms Johnston said.


Asbestos Awareness Ambassador Don Burke said, “There’s no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres so as parents and grandparents, Hetty and I are supporting the Sager’s national plea to help prevent others from risking their health and most importantly, the health of their children.”


Adam Sager was just a toddler when his parents sanded the walls of their new home not knowing the health risks. At 24, Adam was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma caused from inhaling asbestos fibres as a child. At 25, Adam lost his battle with the disease.


There is no cure for mesothelioma, a cancer that can develop between 20-50 years after inhaling asbestos fibres with the average survival time after diagnosis 10-12 months. Inhaling asbestos fibres can also cause diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis and benign pleural disease.


According to a report published by the Australian Mesothelioma Register, in 2014 malignant mesothelioma took the lives of more than 600 Australians and saw more than 640 newly diagnosed cases - that’s more than 12 Australian’s every week.


“If left undisturbed and in a good, stable condition asbestos materials are unlikely to release dangerous fibres and pose a health risk. However, the grave concern we share is that without knowing where asbestos might be found in and around homes and not knowing how to manage it safely, people are playing ‘Renovation Roulette’ and putting their health and the health of children and bystanders at risk if they release asbestos fibres into the air which can be inhaled,” Don Burke said.


“Education is at the forefront of preventing asbestos-related diseases so it’s vital that anyone thinking about renovating should visit to learn where asbestos products might be found and how to manage asbestos safely,” he said.


When it comes to asbestos, don’t play Renovation Roulette! Don’t cut it! Don’t drill it! Don’t drop it! Don’t sand it! Don’t saw it! Don’t scrape it! Don’t scrub it! Don’t dismantle it! Don’t tip it! Don’t waterblast it! Don’t demolish it! And whatever you do... Don’t dump it!


21 November 2015.