Posted on 19 Sep. 2016
Are we creating a fourth wave of asbestos exposure?
By Slater and Gordon
A new wave of asbestos exposure may potentially be emerging in Australia, as we continue to deal with the tragic consequences of the first, second and third waves.
Initially, mineworkers who were exposed to asbestos in mines developed lung diseases and mesothelioma. Then, tradespeople working directly with asbestos products and asbestos started to become sick as well.
The third and most recent wave has seen home renovators (including wives and children who lent a hand or helped clean up) develop dust-related diseases.
In the wake of the discovery that asbestos building products were used in the construction of the Perth Children’s Hospital, a new focus needs to be placed on imported building materials.
In recent years we have seen increased concerns around products imported from overseas, where safety standards aren’t necessarily as high as Australia.
There are calls from unions and industry bodies for Australian compliance testing regimes to be tightened and the number of prosecutions to be stepped up.
As trade becomes easier and Australia becomes more reliant on other countries to import building materials, enhanced monitoring of building products coming from overseas becomes crucial. Asbestos needs to be stopped at the border. Slater and Gordon lawyer Nicole Valenti notes the potential threats of asbestos building materials unknowingly entering the country are serious and alarming.
Mesothelioma, a terminal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, takes on average almost 40 years to develop from first exposure and by that time, people may not remember where they came into contact with the material.
We need to make sure that everyone understands the dangers of importing asbestos materials into this country and that we have tight controls, or we could find the next generation of Australians trying to outrun a fourth wave of asbestos exposure.
Recalling the dates, times and places of exposure to asbestos will become harder as more years go by and you may need to pin point with some degree of accuracy those details at some time in the future. So, if you or anyone you know has been exposed please consider registration with the database below. It is also important to discuss a potential exposure with your General Practitioner so it is recorded.
There is a National register run by the Government which can be found here: Government Registry <https://www.asbestossafety.gov.au/national-asbestos-exposure-register>
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