According to a study published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, the rise in malignant mesothelioma in Western Australia in the last decade has been due to home renovations and DIY projects using building materials containing asbestos.
The “third wave” is a term used to describe the asbestos-related disease that affects workers in the home. The first wave was asbestos-related disease in miners, millers, transport workers and workers who use asbestos products.
Bill Musk, Clinical Professor of Respiratory Medicine, and Senior Author of the Paper, talks about the dangers of asbestos to human health.
When were we first made aware of the dangers asbestos poses to health?
It’s been a long time since we knew about this, but it was painfully slow to take action. In 2003, asbestos was banned in Australia. The problem is still the asbestos that’s out there.
Tell us about the study that you published today.
Since the outbreak of the mesothelioma epidemic in West Australia in the 1960s, the West Australian Mesothelioma Registry records every case.
We’ve looked at the source of asbestos exposure. In the early years, most of the cases were caused by people mining asbestos in Western Australia’s Pilbara Region.
The number of cases in Wittenoom has remained fairly constant over the years since the mines were closed in Wittenoom in 1966. The incidents are still occurring, but the number at risk is decreasing.
Second wave of cases was among people who had used asbestos in their trade, like carpenters and mechanics. Anyone who worked with asbestos was at risk, and the cases are increasing proportionally.
Renovation workers are exposed to asbestos. Qole Perojian
We’re seeing a rise in the number of people exposed to asbestos through DIY projects at home. The risk of asbestos exposure for those who renovate or undertake DIY projects is also proportional to their level of exposure.
It’s important to note that there is no exposure level at which there are no risks.
The number of cases is increasing because there are many people who are doing their own small jobs at home. Their individual risks are low, but the sheer number of people has increased the number.
According to the study, the percentage of women who develop mesothelioma has increased from 5% in the 1990s up to 35% between 2005 and 2008. Why?
Women are much less likely to develop mesothelioma than men because they have been exposed to asbestos at work in a lower level. As a percentage of all new cases of mesothelioma, women are more likely to develop it, but overall, there are fewer cases.
From where is this exposure coming?
In the 1950s and 1960s, asbestos was a popular building material. There’s nothing wrong about it as a material for building, but it’s the health issues that are causing us concern.
There were many asbestos roofs in houses during this period, but they began to disappear soon after as better materials became available and health risks began to be understood. The older houses are the most likely to have asbestos.
Asbestos must be removed carefully. Katsniffen
If someone thinks there is asbestos in their home, they shouldn’t remove it. They should have it tested and, if they’re going to get rid of it, take the necessary precautions.
It is preventable, and the best way to do so is to avoid asbestos exposure.
How can we prevent exposure?
Asbestos is regulated in the home and everywhere else. Home renovators don’t always follow the rules, such as wearing protective gear, sealing the work area, moistening it, and preventing airborne fibres from being exposed.
It’s best to leave asbestos alone and not disturb it.
We hope that this study will raise awareness and help people to be more careful when handling asbestos.
Since years, asbestos has been around us. Asbestos is found in brake linings, for example, and can be released into the air.
The second wave of mesothelioma cases was largely composed of motor mechanics and those who worked on engines whose exhausts were covered with asbestos.
Asbestos fibres are released into the air in urban areas by all of these activities. We all breathe in a small amount. The risk depends on how much is present.
Not all asbestos is the same. Nicksarebi
The risk of mesothelioma is not high for an individual, but when you multiply it by the entire population, the number of people who get the disease increases.