Survey Reveals Mesothelioma Risk Among Australian Homeowners, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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More than 60 percent of Australian homeowners surveyed admit to being exposed to deadly asbestos while doing their own home renovations.

This preventable exposure could place adults and children at risk of malignant mesothelioma many years into the future.

Surviving Mesothelioma is reporting the startling findings of a new survey of Australian homeowners recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia. The survey was distributed to 10,000 randomly-selected adults in New South Wales, Australia, where Do-it-Yourself home renovation is increasingly popular.

Thirty-seven percent of people responded to the survey. Among those who reported recently renovating their homes, more than half said they had done the work themselves. Of these, 61.4% said they had encountered asbestos, the primary cause of malignant mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer with no known cure.

According to the survey respondents, spouses and children were not immune to the risk. Thirty-nine percent of the Do-it-Yourselfers who had been exposed to asbestos said their spouses had also been exposed. Twenty-two percent said their children were exposed to asbestos, as well. More than 20% said they planned to do more remodeling in the next 5 years.

Mesothelioma is a major problem in Australia, due in part to the prevalence of asbestos in homes and buildings. While mesothelioma is often thought of as a disease that primarily effects people who worked in Australia’s asbestos mines or in an industrial setting where asbestos was used, the Australian government is concerned that the recent Do-it-Yourself renovation craze may be putting thousands of ordinary homeowners at risk for mesothelioma in in the next three decades.

Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, the authors of the survey say that, while the self-reported facts should be verified to accurately assess the mesothelioma risk among homeowners, the survey does point to an alarming trend. “This preventable exposure could place adults and children at risk of malignant mesothelioma many years into the future,” they warn.

Asbestos was a popular component in building products ranging from floor and ceiling tiles to insulation, concrete, joint compound, and even paint for decades. Once prized for its strength and durability, companies gradually stopped using asbestos after it was linked to mesothelioma and other health problems. Australia has since instituted a total ban on the use and importation of asbestos.

Safe asbestos removal requires the use of protective gear, negative pressure respirators, and special handling techniques. Home renovators who suspect they may have asbestos in their home are advised to hire an abatement professional. The original study was published in the Medical Journal of Australia. (Park, ET, et al, “Asbestos exposure during home renovation in New South Wales”, September 16, 2013, Medical Journal of Australia, pp. 410.

For nearly ten years, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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