Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Asbestos that is linked to lung cancer called mesothelioma, is still present in more than one million Australian homes, offices and schools according to reports. And the problem is “compounded by poor community awareness and a disjointed approach from the three levels of government.”
According to Cancer Council CEO Ian Oliver mesothelioma is expected to kill up to 18-thousand Australians by 2020. A national asbestos summit is scheduled today at Sydney. He said, “Australia has the highest per capita incidence of this disease in the world and we need to do more to reduce Australia's exposure to asbestos.”
It will be convened by ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions), Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) and the Cancer Council and attended by victims, their families and supporters. The aims of the meet would be to provide asbestos related disease expert group as well as to formulate regulatory bodies and support groups to aid sufferers. The major aim of the meet is to rid Australia of asbestos within 20 years. AMWU president Paul Bastian said that the meet would help form a dedicated and independent National Asbestos Unit. “This would act as an information hub and coordinate national action on asbestos removal and education across all jurisdictions,” he said in a statement today.
On a side note to this story the recent tornado that occurred at Lennox Head, northern NSW on June 3rd, 2010 highlights the asbestos problem in Australia. Many older style ‘fibro’ homes were damaged and asbestos dispersed across a wide area. Clean up efforts are still on-going nearly a month after the event. Many properties have had to have swimming pools drained and scrubbed and turf completely removed and re-lain, all due to the presence of hazardous levels of asbestos in the local environment.