February 27, 2015

Lung Foundation Australia talks to Taree about asbestos risk

Lung Foundation Australia and the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) are holding a series of workshops to help inform Australians about the risks asbestos can pose to their lungs.

Lung Foundation Australia CEO Heather Allan said Australia had one of the world’s highest rates of malignant pleural mesothelioma[i], an asbestos-related lung disease, with numbers expected to rise between now and 2020.

“Asbestos was most commonly found in building materials such as cement, guttering and wall sheeting, particularly in homes built before 1990,” Mrs Allan said.

“Unfortunately, asbestos is a highly toxic, insidious, and environmentally persistent material that has affected thousands of Australians, and is likely to affect thousands more this century,” she said.

“It can take 20 to 40 years for asbestos-related lung disease to develop although exposure to asbestos fibres does not always result in an asbestos related disease.[ii]

“More than 600 people die each year due to mesothelioma, an asbestos-related lung disease.ii

“This national program will raise awareness of potential asbestos risks and provide relevant links to available local, state and national asbestos-related resources.”

Mrs Allan said the Lung Foundation was also working to inform and educate health professionals about best practice in the diagnosis and treatment of asbestos-related lung disease and quality care for those affected by asbestos-related lung disease.

Ann Dunn, registered nurse from Manning Hospital welcomed the initiative which included sessions for health professionals as well as the community in Taree.

“Australia was one of the biggest users of asbestos in the world,” Ms Dunn said.

“We’re a nation of home renovators and it’s strongly recommended anybody undertaking ‘do it yourself’ renovations, or other building work around the house, should ensure they’re not at risk of exposure to asbestos,” she said.

“These sessions are designed to provide practical advice as well as to ensure the dangers of asbestos are not taken lightly.

ASEA CEO Peter Tighe said it is important that regional Australia have access to these public health initiatives.

“We are excited to partner with Lung Foundation Australia to provide this opportunity to share best practice and strengthen networks to provide greater care and support to victims of asbestos disease and their families,” Mr Tighe said.

“Both ASEA and the Lung Foundation recognise that within each state there are already high-quality asbestos-related disease resources available as well as highly motivated and effective support programs and networks.”

RSVP to save your place, phone free call 1800 654 301, email enquiries@lungfoundation.com.au or for more information visit www.lungfoundation.com.au

The Australian Government has created a National Asbestos Exposure Register to record the details of members of the Australian community who think they may have been exposed to asbestos containing materials – http://asbestossafety.gov.au/national-asbestos-exposure-register

[i] Better Health Channel, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Mesothelioma

[ii] Safe Work Australia, Mesothelioma in Australia, 2013