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Australia Still Battling Effects Of Asbestos 15 Years After Ban

Back in December of 2016, the Government of Canada finally announced its plan to implement a nationwide ban of asbestos, set to take effect this year. As we’ve been highlighting in numerous blogs since then, the comprehensive ban of the toxic material can’t come soon enough. Among the many deadly diseases caused by asbestos exposure is mesothelioma. And sadly, it’s something that is bound to continue to threaten the lives of Canadians long after the ban is in place.

This is evidenced by the fact that Australia continues to be haunted by health hazards that have been brought on by its legacy of asbestos mining. As reported by Alex Strauss on SurvivingMesothelioma.com, the ‘land from down under’ banned all forms of asbestos nearly fifteen years ago. However, a new report reveals that mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases continue to affect the lives of Australians.

Mesothelioma affects thousands of Australians.

The report, authored by researchers at the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, explains that while mesothelioma cases have levelled off over the past decade, more than 16,000 Australians were diagnosed with the disease between 1982 and 2016.

Strauss notes that the country’s status as the top user of asbestos in the world between the 1960s and 1970s has a lot to do with its high rates of pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Evidently, Australia took too long to ban asbestos even though there were growing concerns about the toxic mineral all those decades ago. Asbestos was not officially banned in Australia until 2003.

Dr. Matthew Soeberg of the University of Sydney is the first author of the new report. He believes that Australia is headed in the right direction but, along with his colleagues, believes that a greater focus must be placed on “preventing the devastating effects of avoidable asbestos-related diseases.”

Who is still most at risk of asbestos exposure?

Individuals who attempt to take on home renovation projects on their own are putting themselves in danger. If their buildings contain asbestos, they are at a high risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. This is true in both Australia and the United States.

“In the US, virtually every home and public building constructed before 1980 is presumed to contain some amount of asbestos,” writes Strauss, “To minimize the risk for pleural mesothelioma, homeowners are urged to seek professional guidance before starting a remodelling project that could disturb asbestos.

He goes on to point out that Australia is one of 55 countries that have official asbestos bans in place. Both the United States and Canada are excluded from that list. Of course, we continue to wait, somewhat impatiently, for Canada’s asbestos ban to officially take effect. But even when the ban is in place, measures will still need to be taken in order to limit asbestos exposure and significantly diminish the number of future asbestos-related disease diagnoses.

Australia has proven that we still have a long road ahead of us.

But, at DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are certainly willing to do our part! For information about our Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) Services, please call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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