The Asbestos Education Committee announced the face of the National Asbestos Awareness campaign (November) will be one of Australia’s leading stars of theatre and screen, John Jarratt.
After losing his great mate and fellow actor Harold Hopkins to mesothelioma caused from inhaling asbestos fibres when he was young, Jarratt has been a dedicated campaigner and Asbestos Awareness Ambassador raising awareness of the dangers of asbestos among homeowners, renovators and tradies since 2012. From November 1, the Asbestos Awareness campaign will feature John Jarratt and the new slogan “Renovating? Go Slow! Asbestos – It’s a NO GO! Visit asbestosawareness.com.au to learn what you need to know!” in radio community service announcements, online advertising, posters, flyers, bus advertising and on the campaign’s leading community asbestos education website, asbestosawareness.com.au to reinforce the potentially life-saving message that asbestos could be lurking in one third of Aussie homes built or renovated before 1987.
“Most Australians believe that asbestos-related diseases are a thing of the past, but they couldn’t be more wrong! Today, asbestos poses just as much a risk to the health of Australians as ever before,” Jarratt commented. “Each week 13 Australians die of asbestos-related diseases – 12 from malignant mesothelioma – another 13 are diagnosed with this incurable cancer that can develop 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos fibres. There is no cure and the average survival time is just 10-12 months after diagnosis. With numbers predicted to rise in coming years because people either ignore the warnings or don’t know the risks or how to manage asbestos safely; homeowners, renovators, and tradies are playing a risky game of ‘Renovation Roulette’ and putting their lives and the lives of others, including their kids, at risk,” he added.
“Although there’s no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres, what we do know is that the greater the exposure, the greater the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. If sealed, in good condition and left undisturbed, asbestos is not believed to pose a health risk. However, if asbestos-containing materials are disturbed during renovations or maintenance and fibres are released that can be inhaled, this can cause asbestos-related diseases including mesothelioma,” Kathryn Heiler, Chair of the Asbestos Education Committee commented.
Ms. Heiler explained that currently, while identifying, removing and disposing of all ACMs from every Australian home isn’t feasible, if homeowners wish to remove these products we encourage them to play it safe and use a licenced asbestos removalist who has the knowledge and qualifications to remove asbestos safely. Heiler went on to add that contrary to what people believe, the cost of asbestos removal by a licenced professional is affordable and comparable to most licenced tradesmen including electricians, plumbers and tilers with the cost of disposal at a lawful landfill site often included with the cost of professional removal. “We want Australians to play it safe with asbestos and visit asbestosawareness.com.au where they can find user-friendly information and an online product database to help identify the types and locations of asbestos-containing products and information on how to manage and dispose of asbestos safely,” Ms. Heiler commented.