Living with Asbestos

Study Focuses on Living with Asbestos

In a country where asbestos insulation is found in most houses built prior to the turn of the millennium, a study has finally been completed that demonstrates just how hazardous it can be living with asbestos in a home where the toxic mineral is present.

Study Focuses on Living with AsbestosIt’s a study that’s largely different from others that came before it since most others focus upon workplace exposure to asbestos.

The study by the Australian National University delves into the impact of living in a house that contains what’s known as loose-fill asbestos insulation, a product very popular in Australia, where asbestos mining was once a major industry. In particular, the report focuses on the area around the capital city of Canberra.

Recently published in the international journal The Lancet Public Health, the study demonstrates how unsuspecting homeowners can be impacted by the toxic material found in their attic or elsewhere in their home.

DIYers who encounter asbestos during renovations can be especially affected if they don’t handle the material properly.

Lead author Dr. Rosemary Korda explained that the study involved more than 1 million individuals who lived in the capital area from 1983 to 2013.

“It linked Medicare (universal health insurance) enrolment data, national death registrations and the Australian Cancer Database to compare the incidence of mesothelioma and other cancers in people who had lived in a house with loose-fill asbestos with the incidence of these cancers in people who had not lived in a house with loose-fill asbestos,” explained an article penned by the university announcing their findings.

In all, the study identified 17,248 people who had lived in around 1,000 houses with loose-fill asbestos insulation over a course of about 30 years.

Some of the conclusions of the study were as follows:

Four more cases of mesothelioma than expected occurred in men who had lived in a house with loose-fill asbestos insulation;

The association between living in a loose-fill asbestos house and mesothelioma was much weaker than that seen in studies where people were exposed to asbestos through their work; and

Rates of colorectal cancer rates were elevated in both men (32 percent higher) and women (73 percent higher) who had lived at a house with loose fill asbestos.

“Our findings have important health, social, financial and legal implications for governments and communities in which asbestos has been used to insulate houses,” concluded Dr. Korda, who noted that she hopes other countries like Canada and the United States will pay attention to these alarming statistics and continue to take steps to eliminate asbestos.