Latrobe Valley
Asbestos Taskforce

Survey results reveal not all homes built or renovated before 1990 are being checked for asbestos before home maintenance jobs or renovations.

Sep 15, 2022 | media release, surveys

The Latrobe Valley Asbestos Taskforce has undertaken four surveys since 2019, and this latest report has tracked changes in awareness and attitudes towards asbestos over that time.

“It remains very concerning that not all homes are being checked for asbestos prior to any works on the property, when homes built before 1990 are likely to contain asbestos somewhere,” said Chair of the Taskforce, Latrobe Health Advocate Jane Anderson.

“Adding to this concern is that fewer than one in five are being checked by an asbestos professional.

“We are hopeful there will be change in this space, as the Breathtaking Renovations video produced by the Taskforce, which has been shown online and also broadcast on TV in Gippsland, has proven to be a successful way to raise awareness.

58% who saw the video or TV commercial have said they are now more likely to stop and think about where asbestos could be in their home.”

Other positive results from the survey include the decline in the number of people since 2019 who say they are confident in identifying asbestos-containing materials (from 39% in 2019 to 22% in 2022). This highlights the increased understanding that asbestos was used in an enormous range of products, over 3,000, and not just in asbestos-cement sheet. While many once believed that asbestos only poses a risk if it is disturbed, this has now fallen from 63% in 2019 to 24% in 2022.

“It is also pleasing that more people are now aware that asbestos needs to be maintained in good condition, and that it is a risk if it is left to degrade because it can release deadly fibres,” said Ms Anderson.

“While there are some positive changes, we need to continue building awareness around the dangers of asbestos. Too many people are undertaking home renovation activities without any asbestos awareness training.

“It is important the whole community understands that we all need to be mindful of asbestos and take it seriously. Asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer, ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases, which has a devastating impact on families and communities. More than 4500 Australians die each year from asbestos-related disease. This is completely preventable if proper precautions are taken.”

Key statistics from the survey:

  • 83% agree it is important for them to know about asbestos and its related dangers
  • 54% respondents have been involved in renovations on properties built before 1990
  • 33% renovating properties built before 1990 are assessing for asbestos themselves
  • 14% DIY home renovators have had formal asbestos training.

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For information about asbestos and how to manage the risks, go to www.asbestos.vic.gov.au

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