Asbestos campaign set to target DIY renovators

DUBBO City Council and its counterparts across the state will receive guidelines on how to play their part in a campaign to protect home renovators from asbestos.

Campaigners fear that many DIY enthusiasts are at risk of exposure to the substance, which is found in most homes built before the mid-1980s and can cause deadly cancers if the fibres become airborne and are inhaled.

To raise awareness of the issue the state government has compiled a Model Asbestos Policy for councils, which contains best practice for dealing with fibro and other forms of the so-called magic mineral.

Launching the policy in Sydney yesterday, NSW Minister for Local Government Don Page said renovators should leave asbestos disposal to the experts.

"Unless you know what you're doing, you're better off not doing it," Mr Page said.

"You're better off getting someone in who knows how to manage asbestos."

The policy highlights the role that councils should play in terms of waste disposal, emergency response and public education.

Mr Page said there had already been at least 4700 deaths from mesothelioma in Australia since records began in the early 1980s, with more than 25,000 more expected to die from it in the next 40 years.

"Currently, each year 500 men and 100 women develop mesothelioma in Australia, and this is expected to rise to 900 new cases a year by 2020," he said.

Professor Nico van Zandwijk, who helped draw up the policy, said the scale of the problem was huge in Australia, where there was enough asbestos waste to fill 300,000 jumbo jets.

"That is the legacy of a lot of asbestos use in the built environment," he said.

As part of the campaign, launched at the start of Asbestos Awareness Week, a portable replica house will tour the country to demonstrate where asbestos can be found around the home.

St Johns College visual arts students Hannah Soole and Madeleine Simpson with art teacher Catherine Jones (centre).

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