New research conducted and published by the Australian Medical Journal found that the presence of asbestos within the home has increased the risks of people developing asbestos related diseases.
The research indicated that the way Australians are being exposed to asbestos has altered from general historic patterns, where people were normally more likely to come into contact with asbestos in the manufacturing, mining and construction industries. Instead they are now much more likely to be exposed to asbestos within their own home rather than as a result of working in heavy industry.
Importation and the production of asbestos, has surprisingly only recently been banned by the Australian government in 2004 approximately. Asbestos production and insulation for domestic properties was particularly evident in the 1960s and the 1970s.
This potentially fatal mineral, is known to cause terrible diseases. The associated conditions include the malignant cancer mesothelioma, pleural thickening, lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural plaques. Reported incidences of such diseases lead many to seek redress in the form of asbestos disease compensation claims.
Mesothelioma and the other common asbestos diseases are often supposed to only affect those who were unfortunate enough to have worked with asbestos in their past careers. The report does confirm this where it states that generally asbestos conditions, such as mesothelioma, will still mainly arise from historic exposure from working with asbestos in industry. Large numbers of workers who have in the past worked with asbestos are still more likely to develop an asbestos related disease. With the long length of time between exposure to asbestos and the onset of symptoms, the legacy does continue.
The startling aspect of this research suggested a sizeable increase in asbestos disease cases amongst tenants or residents of affected properties. Asbestos is dangerous when it is dry and has been disturbed. This allows the fibres to flake and break off, causing inhalation of the fibres into the lung itself. The report identifies that the attempted removal of asbestos by the residents, almost certainly without the necessary protection being worn, may be contributing to this rise.
In Australia the report takes the view that the number of new mesothelioma cases have leveled off and following the banning of the use of asbestos, this is likely to gradually decrease. With increasing awareness within both the general public and clinicians, it is not clear whether the number of victims initiating asbestos disease compensation claims will decrease at the same rate.
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