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Asbestos warning for the NSW building industry

A new safety campaign is warning New South Wales builders to beware asbestos lurking in more places than expected.

A new safety campaign is warning New South Wales builders to beware asbestos lurking in more places than expected.

The campaign, launched by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), warns that more than 3000 products containing asbestos were used in Australian homes and workplaces before it was banned in 2003.

These include roofs, eaves, downpipes and insulation, interior walls, kitchen splashbacks, under lino, some carpets and tiles (and the cement compounds used to fix tiles), lagging around pipes, inside fuse boxes or as part of ventilation shafts, fences, garden sheds and small outdoor constructions like chicken coops, and as part of bonded cement compounds that make up walls, which can be disturbed when sanded in preparation for painting.

PA Acting Executive Director Hazardous Incidents and Environmental Health Arminda Ryan said the EPA is urging do-it-yourself renovators and tradies to be extra vigilant and be aware that it can lurk in more places than you think.

“You can’t always tell what products contain asbestos just by looking at them,” Ryan said. “It can be hard to tell the difference between products with and without asbestos as some companies manufactured identical-looking products after the asbestos ban.”

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“The EPA encourages DIYers to find out where asbestos can be found. It is best to be vigilant, take precautions and seek the help of experts.

Workers in the building, construction and vehicle trades, along with plumbers, electricians and DIY renovators of older homes are at higher risk of encountering the material.

If left undisturbed, the material poses low health risks, but when released as a dust and inhaled, it can cause a range of deadly diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

It is estimated more than 4000 Australians are dying of asbestos-related diseases each year.

“An asbestos check from a licensed asbestos assessor can advise where asbestos might be in your home and how to safely and legally dispose of it to protect your family, neighbours and community,” Ryan said.

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