National Asbestos Awareness Month – (1-30 November)

Are You Playing Renovation RouletteDon Burke OAM, Ambassador for national Asbestos Awareness Month (1-30 November) has issued a plea to every Australian to make it their business to Get to kNOw Asbestos this NOvember!

Joining the Asbestos Education Committee (AEC), the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) and the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA), Don said, “There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres therefore it’s vital that we all learn about the risks of disturbing asbestos, how to identify products and most importantly; how to manage and dispose of asbestos safely.

Don Burke OAM is an Australian television presenter, television producer, author and horticulturist.

Don Burke OAM is an Australian television presenter, television producer, author and horticulturist.

“The grave concern we share is that without knowing where asbestos might be located in and around homes, and without knowing how to manage it safely, people are playing ‘Renovation Roulette’ and putting their health and the health of families and bystanders at risk if they release asbestos fibres into the air which can be inhaled and cause life-threatening diseases.

“We know that at least 1 in 3 Australian homes contain asbestos in some form or another and with the popularity of renovation programs rising inspiring a boom in home renovations, homeowners, renovators, tradies and handymen must make it their business to Get to kNOw Asbestos this NOvember by visiting asbestosawareness.com.au to protect themselves and families from dangerous asbestos fibres,” Don said.

Peter Dunphy, Chair of the Asbestos Education Committee heading the national Asbestos Awareness Month campaign said, “Because Australia was among the highest consumers of asbestos products in the world, asbestos-containing materials are common in homes built or renovated before 1987 with a broad range of products still commonly found in and around brick, weatherboard, fibro and clad homes.

“People would be surprised at where they might find the hidden danger of asbestos. It could be anywhere! Under floor coverings such as carpets, linoleum and vinyl tiles, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, ceilings and ceiling space (insulation), eaves, garages, roofs, around hot water pipes, fences, extensions to homes, garages, outdoor toilets, backyard and farm sheds, chook sheds and even dog kennels.

“By visiting asbestosawareness.com.au people will be able to take the 20 Point Safety Check and easily search to identify the sorts of products to look for, the locations of where they might be found and learn how to manage and dispose of asbestos safely,” he said.

Barry Robson, President of the ADFA and long-time campaigner and advocate for workers and families affected by asbestos-related diseases said, “Renovators risk exposing themselves and families to asbestos fibres if they don’t know where asbestos might be in their homes.

Barry Robson President of the ADFA

Barry Robson
President of the ADFA

“Tradespeople are particularly vulnerable as they can come into contact with asbestos-containing materials on the job every day so they must be doubly aware of where it might be and what to do to prevent releasing fibres that can be inhaled.“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!” Mr Robson said.

Prior to 1987, many homes were constructed from low-cost fibro (bonded asbestos cement sheeting) to meet the growing demand for housing and it was common practice for builders and labourers to bury broken pieces of asbestos materials on building sites which can now be exposed when digging, gardening or redeveloping properties or land.

Fibro was also commonly used in the 1950s and 1970s when building garages for the new family car; to build Dad’s shed and when adding extensions to existing brick or weatherboard homes such as family rooms while ‘weekenders’ were often built from fibro as low-cost holiday homes.

In rural regions many farm buildings were constructed from fibro as a cost-effective means of housing equipment and stock and it was also widely used to construct ‘sleep-out’ additions to farmhouses, workers accommodation and community housing throughout much of regional Australia.

If left undisturbed and well-maintained asbestos-containing products generally don’t pose a health risk. However, if these products are disturbed and fibres are released during a renovation, a knock-down-rebuild or the redevelopment of an old fibro home site, this is when health risks can occur.

Professor Nico van Zandwijk

Professor Nico van Zandwijk

Professor Nico van Zandwijk, Director of the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute said, “There is growing evidence that suggests the current occurrences of asbestos-related diseases is as a result of exposure to asbestos fibres during DIY and renovations with more people, specifically women, diagnosed as a result of inhaling fibres in a non-occupational setting.

There is no cure for mesothelioma (Full medical term: malignant mesothelioma) , a cancer that can develop between 20-50 years after inhaling asbestos fibres and the average survival time after diagnosis is 10-12 months. Inhaling asbestos fibres can also cause lung cancer, asbestosis and benign pleural disease.

During NOvember Australians are encouraged to host a Blue Lamington Drive morning or afternoon tea at home or at work to help raise awareness of the current dangers of asbestos while raising vital funds for medical research and support services for sufferers of asbestos-related diseases.

  • Get to kNOw asbestos this NOvember, visit asbestosawareness.com.au
  • Register a Blue Lamington Drive morning or afternoon tea, visit www.bluelamington.com
  • Make a donation to support research conducted by the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute.

Host Your Own Blue Lamington Drive

  • Choose a date and time during Asbestos Awareness Month 1-30 November.
  • Invite your work colleagues, family and friends to come along to a morning or afternoon tea and to ‘go blue at your lamington doo’ while enjoying some Blue Lamingtons they will learn about the dangers of asbestos in and around the home.
  • By going ‘blue at your lamington doo’ you can include blue cupcakes, blueberry muffins or any assortment of blue nibbles
  • Share asbestos awareness and fundraising with everyone you know and invite them to attend or sponsor your Blue Lamington Drive
  • Ask guests to bring a gold coin or more to help support the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute – the money raised will aide more research!
  • Donated funds raised, no matter how small, will help make a difference to those affected by asbestos-related diseases.

Blue Lamingtons
Cuisine: Australian
Recipe type: Cakes
  • 125 g butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1¾ cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1-2 drops of blue food colouring (optional)
For the icing
  • 3½ cups icing sugar mixture
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 cups desiccated coconut
  • blue food colouring
  1. Place coconut in a plastic zip-lock or freezer bag. Add a few drops of food colouring to 60ml or ¼ cup water and pour into the bag. Seal the top of the bag and shake/rub the bag allowing the colour to mix through the coconut. Transfer to a plate and allow to dry or place in oven for a few minutes (until dry).
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 3cm-deep, 20cm x 30cm (base) lamington pan. Line with baking paper, leaving a 2cm overhang on all sides. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition (mixture may curdle).
  3. Sift half the flour over butter mixture. Stir to combine. Add half the milk. Stir to combine. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack. Cover with a clean tea towel. Set aside overnight.
  4. Make icing - Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add butter and boiling water. Stir until smooth.
  5. Cut cake into 15 pieces. Place coconut in a dish. Using a fork, dip 1 piece of cake in icing. Shake off excess. Toss in coconut. Place on a wire rack over a baking tray. Repeat with remaining cake, icing and coconut. Stand for 2 hours or until set. Serve.
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