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Asbestos warning for Townsville storm victims

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Media Release

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Local law firm Slater and Gordon is urging residents affected by Tuesday’s freak storm in Townsville to be careful when cleaning up and repairing their homes as the dangers of asbestos exposure increases when disturbed.

Townsville practice group leader, Brian Edmond, said the law firm was concerned about people removing building material from their homes, or fixing up damaged walls without appropriate protection.

“It is important to be mindful of the risks, particularly with asbestos in old homes,” Mr Edmond said.

“All houses built following World War II and up to the late 1980s should be suspected of containing asbestos sheeting or other asbestos materials.

“Some of the storm damage I’ve seen has affected parts of the home such as walls, eaves, fences, roofs, heaters and pipes.

“Broken asbestos sheeting and other asbestos containing building products can lead to harmful exposure to asbestos fibres and in turn an increased risk of asbestos related disease.

Mr Edmond said anyone who was concerned that they may have already been exposed to asbestos could register their names and details on the firm’s asbestos register.

He also said someone did not have to be diagnosed with an asbestos illness to be on the register.

“It means that if, in the future, they are diagnosed with an asbestos related disease then we can move quickly to identify how and where their exposure may have occurred and to lodge a compensation claim.

“Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will develop an asbestos related disease and there is no reason as to explain why.”

Information about the laws surrounding the removal of asbestos and other useful advice can be found on the Asbestos Industry Association and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland websites.

“It’s important to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into when cleaning up storm damage to avoid an unpleasant surprise. The risk to your health may not be worth the reward,” he said.