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DIY home renovations and asbestos – a dangerous mix

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asbestos-exposureOn the eve of National Asbestos Awareness Day, the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia had warned of a “third wave” of exposure to asbestos, as DIY home renovations spike in popularity.

Friday, 28 November, marked National Asbestos Awareness Day, where groups came together to pay tribute to the thousands of Australians who have died from asbestos-related diseases. However, the day also exists to remind the community of the present threat asbestos poses.

Currently, 600 mesothelioma cases are reported a year, and this is expected to rise to more than 900 cases a year by 2020, with the National Health and Medical Research Council estimating that more than 25,000 Australians will die from mesothelioma over the next 40 years.

“There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres,” Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia president Barry Robson said.

“In the past, the first wave of people affected by asbestos-related diseases were those exposed to fibres in the mining and manufacturing process and their families. Then came the second wave, which were people exposed to fibres from using products in the workplace.

The foundation is warning of a “third wave” of asbestos-related diseases that will include people renovating homes without the proper precautions. Read more

Rottnest Island: Asbestos confirmed in material found near holiday villas

By Nicolas Perpitch,

asbestosislandIt said it was of very low risk, but the Australian Medical Association said that response was not good enough and all asbestos should be removed from the island’s accommodation.

Perth man Donovan Pryor last week alerted the authority to the substance, which he found outside bungalows in the Bathurst area, north of Thomson Bay.

The authority fenced off the area and sent samples to the mainland for testing.

It now says it has been advised the substance was white asbestos.

It said the material was intact and non-friable, and in this condition, it was of very low risk to anyone staying in the units or passing by.

Acting chief executive Greg Ellson said Rottnest is safe for visitors.

“Our first concern is the safety and peace of mind of our visitors,” he said.

“When this material was reported, we acted immediately to fence off the area.

“As a precaution, the site was fully remediated using a licensed asbestos management operator the following day.”

Mr Ellson said it was “regrettable that media reports have alarmed the public in this instance”.

The confirmation the material is asbestos comes despite comments by the authority’s chairman, John Driscoll, last week that all known asbestos from buildings on the island was inert and “not a threat”. Read more

Lead advice group cut as poison concerns increase

lead paint on leila's house

lead paint on leila’s house (Photo credit: wayneandwax)


By Sue White, ABC Environment


Questions are being raised as to the ‘safe’ level of lead in children’s blood. They come as a popular Australian lead advisory group has its funding taken away.


ANY DAY NOW, the phone is about to ring in a small Sydney-based not-for-profit for the 100,000th time. But when caller number 100,000 gets through to the Global Lead Advice and Support Service (GLASS), there may be no one to take the call.


It’s not for a lack of concern. In fact, according to the organisation’s founder, Elizabeth O’Brien, the heavy metal that’s well known to be toxic when ingested, even in small doses, remains a very real health problem. But in June, the charity’s free service of 22 years did not have its funding renewed.


“It was just $115,000 a year,” says O’Brien. “But it allowed for a few paid staff to manage the 150 volunteers, and things like public liability insurance,” she says.


And it looks like those meagre funds will not be reinstated any time soon. Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt says of GLASS’s funding, “This was a decision made by the previous Government. Due to Labor’s financial mismanagement, we are not in a position to overturn their decision.” Read More


Source of Boy’s Mysterious Lead Poisoning Was in an Unlikely Place

By Bahar Gholipour,


An 8-year-old boy in Australia had high levels of lead, a toxic metal, in his blood for more than two years for unexplained reasons, until doctors found lead pellets in his body, trapped in an unlikely place, according to a new report of his case.

Doctors had tested the boy for toxins in looking for the cause of his unusually hyperactive behavior. They found levels of lead in his blood ranging from 17.4 to 27.4 microgram per deciliter, much higher than the level of 5 micrograms considered normal. But the source remained mysterious — doctors couldn’t find what the boy might have been touching, inhaling or eating, to have such high lead levels for months.

When the boy started to have a stomachache and was admitted to the hospital, the doctors did an x-ray, which revealed large numbers of small round objects in the boy’s abdomen, according to the researchers, who published a case report in Aug. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

An x-ray image showing objects inside the abdomen. Credit: The New England Journal of Medicine ©2013.

An x-ray image showing objects inside the abdomen.
Credit: The New England Journal of Medicine ©2013.

The metallic-looking objects were in the lower right side of the boy’s abdomen, appearing to be inside the digestive tract. The doctors immediately gave the boy a bowel washout, which should have cleared any object within his digestive tract, but a second x-ray showed the objects had not moved.

The doctors suspected the unlikely scenario – the objects had to be in the boy’s appendix.

In surgery, the doctors removed the boy’s appendix and cut it open, revealing 57 lead pellets trapped inside.

“It’s one of those things you only see once in a life time,” said Dr. Ibrahim Zardawi, the pathologist who examined the appendix. “I’ve been in medicine for almost 40 years now, and had never seen anything like this.”

The boy’s appendix weighed 5 times heavier than normal when containing the pellets, but other than few tissue scars, it was normal and wasn’t inflamed.

Read More