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Be wary of asbestos before renovating during the Easter long weekend

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Avoiding exposure is the best way to prevent asbestos-related diseases

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If you’re making the most of the last few days of good weather to get on top of those home renovations this four-day Easter weekend, you need to ensure you’re not exposing yourself to deadly asbestos.

With the popularity of home-renovation television shows, many Australians have been inspired to make improvements to their properties.

But it’s important to remember that roughly one in three Australian houses built before 1983 contains asbestos.

People living in regional areas need to be especially careful, given the higher number of houses built in these areas prior to the 1980s.

Slater and Gordon Senior Asbestos Lawyer Margaret Kent said there could be asbestos hiding in homes in places other than well-known hotspots, such as ceilings, walls and sheds.

Ms Kent said that if home renovators suspect there is asbestos in their house, they should leave it alone and have it identified and removed by professionals, who follow appropriate safety procedures.

She said avoiding exposure was the best way to prevent asbestos-related diseases.

“Demolishing, sawing and sanding could all potentially disturb asbestos, putting individuals and families at risk,” Ms Kent said.

“The dangers of asbestos should never be underestimated with even low levels of exposure able to cause life threatening illnesses.

“These diseases take decades to develop from first exposure – by taking proper safety precautions, renovators can make sure they don’t regret their DIY project in 40 years’ time.”

Ms Kent said hundreds of Australians continue to be diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases every year.

She said despite the known health risks, more and more people are still being exposed to asbestos fibres because of the increased popularity of home renovations.

“It’s great that people want to improve and raise the value of their homes but you need to be aware of the potential dangers if you encounter asbestos,” Ms Kent said.

Asbestos-containing material does not just mean fibro or cement sheeting– asbestos can also be found in gutters, pipes, flues, roof shingles, insulation, drywall, carpet underlay and tile undersheeting.

For more information visit www.asbestossafety.gov.au.