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Research published this week by the Medical Journal of Australia matches an increase in clients presenting domestic asbestos exposure, according to a leading asbestos lawyer.
Margaret Kent, asbestos lawyer in the Slater and Gordon Lawyers Melbourne office, said the law firm had witnessed an increase in the number of people contracting asbestos-related disease from exposure around the home.
“As more people renovate houses built between the mid 1940s and the mid 1980s, the number of people at risk of being exposed to asbestos will increase,” Ms Kent said.
“Certainly we are seeing more people – and in particular more women – who are coming to us with asbestos diseases where their only possible exposure has been in the domestic setting.
“For women, it has often been the case that they swept up the dust created after other people in the family knocked down an old shed, or took out old flooring and walls. That can be a very dangerous situation with a high exposure risk.
“Our experience is exactly in line with the figures that have come out from the Medical Journal of Australia research.”
Ms Kent said that community awareness was crucial to stem the tide of domestic asbestos victims.
“Awareness of asbestos disease peaked as a generation of people affected by industrial asbestos exposures, like Wittenoom, came and went. Young people in particular need to be better educated about the presence of asbestos in older houses as they begin to renovate their first home purchases.
“We would certainly like to see more information and community awareness of this problem. I would hope that the study reminds those companies who were once involved in the production of asbestos products that they have an ongoing obligation to the community to help generate such awareness.”
For more information about the research, please visit www.mja.com.au.