By Cameron Gair
West Australians now have the highest diagnosed rate of in the country and experts have warned the community not to become complacent about the killer disease.
Of 475 people told last year they had the cancer, 95 were from Western Australia.
The deadly disease is contracted after exposure to asbestos fibres but symptoms may not appear for up to 40 years afterwards.
Twenty-percent of victims diagnosed last year were under 65 years of age and among them were home renovators.
These new figures come from a report organised by the Safe Work Australia and Comcare for the Australian Mesothelioma Registry.
People contracting asbestos-related illness during home or commercial renovations are being referred to as ‘third wave’ victims.
The first wave were Wittenoom asbestos miners and the second were tradesmen and manufacturers being who dealt with asbestos made products.
Project Manager of the Australian Asbestos Network Renai Desai said it’s the younger generation researchers and experts are most concerned about.
“The general public, particularly people under 40 have become complacent about the risk of asbestos related illness.”
“The ‘third wave’ of asbestos exposure comes down to the abundance of old houses in WA still containing asbestos, unless it has been professionally removed people should presume it’s still there,” she said.
“When you buy a home you have to conduct a pest inspection for things like termites, you should also conduct and asbestos inspection. It should be the first thing on your list when looking to buy or renovate.”
Fully licensed asbestos removalist Frank Adeane of Fremantle Asbestos Removal said the public is slowly becoming more aware of the inherent risk involved in dealing with asbestos.
“Asbestos was a cheap product that was highly distributed, its presence can be seen all over Western Australia.”
“Its danger is highly underrated by the general public but perceptions are slowly beginning to change,” he said.