Tot vijf jaar geleden kwamen asbestziektes in Zuid Australië alleen voor bij mensen die beroepsmatig met asbest in aanraking waren geweest. De laatste jaren melden zich steeds meer mensen die ziek geworden zijn doordat ze ongeveer 30 jaar geleden aan de verbouwing van hun huis hebben gewerkt.

Bron: Sunday Mail, 10 april 2005.

Sunday Mail (SA)

April 10, 2005 Sunday

HEADLINE: Next wave of victims.Asbestos link to renovators

RECORD numbers of South Australian asbestos victims are being diagnosed with the killer disease mesothelioma as more deaths are linked to exposure to fibres in the home.

Health Department figures show the number of people suffering the terminal illness have steadily climbed from eight in 1977 to now peak at more than 50 annually.

Adelaide lawyers are reporting more clients now seeking compensation from asbestos manufacturers following exposure during home renovations.

They say such victims were almost non-existent five years ago.

SA Asbestos Victims Association secretary Terry Miller said renovators from the 1970s and their children were now starting to develop the respiratory disease, which took about 30 years to develop.

“The thing that worries us now is the people doing home renovations,” Mr Miller said.

“It might be young people doing a home renovation and there might be a little child crawling around on the floor and that child might not know for 20 years the parents . . . handed this child a death sentence.

“In this state now we have an unwanted record for mesothelioma cases per capita in the world.”

Only Western Australia has a higher rate of mesothelioma per capita than SA.

Thousands of SA properties, including schools, office buildings, houses and Housing Trust properties are riddled with asbestos, which can be dangerous if disturbed without care.

Asbestos law firm Slater and Gordon says renovators are the “third wave” of asbestos victims, following miners and manufacturers.

“What we are finding is that people who had very small exposure such as adding on a room to the house or putting in a cubby house or sanding back and painting eaves on houses, those people 30 years later are developing mesothelioma,” laywer Jane McDermott, an asbestos specialist with the firm, said.

About 30 per cent of the firm’s current clients – or about 20 victims – were exposed in the home, often to asbestos sheeting made at the James Hardie factory at Elizabeth after 1960.

Law firm Turner Freeman is acting for 10 South Australians who are dying of mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos while renovating.

“The first home renovation cases we did were five or six years ago,” a partner in the firm, Tanya Segelov, said.

“Up to a quarter of mesothelioma cases would now be home renovation cases. When we were doing this work 10 years ago it was all workers.

“It’s not so much the asbestos in the industry now that will kill people it’s the asbestos in the home.”

Asbestos victims were typically workers at James Hardie, the Whyalla shipyards and city buildings, including old department stores, which were sprayed with asbestos, Ms Segelov said.

A total of 742 South Australians have been officially diagnosed with mesothelioma since the Health Department began compiling the rates in 1977.

Other asbestos diseases such as asbestosis are not recorded by the department.