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Initially it was miners and tradesmen who fell victim to asbestos, now reports have indicated that the deadly substance has been attacking people at home.

In the 70’s and 80’s every night a husband and father returned home from work, embracing their children and wives, unknowingly exposing their families to the invisible but very deadly asbestos fibres. Asbestos was used very often because it was cheap,strong, waterproof and fireproof– essentially the perfect material for builders. Asbestos fibres are 50- to-200 times thinner than human hair, and they invade people’s lungs laying dormant for many years before developing into fatal asbestos-caused cancers.

All evidence seems to indicate that Lou Williams, 57, developed mesothelioma from the warm embraces she received from her father, or even simply washing his overalls or vacuuming his car.Norm Williams was a plasterer on stores in shopping centres before being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1985. He succumbed to the disease six months later at the age of  54. His daughter never believed she could have developed the disease either until she received the shocking news in 2003.

Since then, Williams has had to endure an grueling 18 sessions of chemotherapy, and has even said goodbye to her daughters, husband, family and friends.

Since then, Williams has had to endure an grueling 18 sessions of chemotherapy, and has even said goodbye to her daughters, husband, family and friends. Miraculously she is still alive but after attending dozens of mesothelioma related funerals, she’s avoided planning events four-weeks in advance, and has resigned her self to the fact that she may not live to see her next birthday.

According to the Asbestos Management Review Report released in August, there have been 4700 deaths from mesothelioma in Australia since records began in the early ’80s.  Estimates indicate that an additional 25,000 people will die over the next four decades. According to Asbestoswise over 2500 people are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in Australia every year.

These include mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis (a condition that restricts breathing by hardening and scarring the lung) and pleural plaques (thickened patches on the chest and lung lining).

Exposure Risks

The mining of asbestos in Australia been prohibited and there has not been any importation of the deadly substance since 2003. “It’s difficult to tell if a material contains asbestos,” says Anna Trzekwas, from Asbestos Removal Melbourne. “If you’re worried, call in a WorkSafe licensed removalist to check it. If necessary, they can safely remove the asbestos, too.”

Homes built after 1988 should be asbestos free. Pre-1984 do hold a risk of containing asbestos ridden material.

Asbestos may be present in hot water pipes, old heaters, stoves and ceiling insulation, as well as brakes, clutches and gaskets on pre-2003 cars.


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