DIY Renovation Shows Gloss Over Hazards of Asbestos

If you’re an HGTV junkie, chances are you’ve seen those renovation shows where the handsome host contractor comes across asbestos in his current project, groans a little, and then proceeds to tackle the problem quickly so that he can continue with that all-important renovation, which is scheduled to take only 10 days and cost just $10,000.

DIY Renovation Shows Gloss Over Hazards of AsbestosIt’s a nice scenario, but such a scene generally does not accurately portray the time and money it takes to properly remove asbestos-containing materials from a home. In addition, shows like these don’t often mention that the abatement and disposal of toxic asbestos materials need to be done by a professional.

In Australia, where more than 4.000 individuals die each year from asbestos-related diseases, the government is urging DIY shows produced in that country to do a better job of warning the general public about the dangers of dealing with asbestos and the risks faced when it’s not handled properly.

Rod Smith, of Australia’s Bernie Banton Foundation – a group of individuals determined to bring attention to the plight of mesothelioma sufferers – believes that education paves the way to managing and preventing asbestos exposure and believes that DIY shows in his country and others simply aren’t doing what it takes to stress the seriousness of the issue.

“They are deadly,” Mr. Smith said of the renovation shows. “If we had our way, they would run warning banners at the bottom and during the program,” he added, stressing that he believes DIY projects – so popular these days – could usher in a whole new wave of mesothelioma cases in Australia and maybe in the United States as well.

Part of the problem, he opines, is the fact that most asbestos diseases don’t surface for 20, 30, or 40 years from exposure, making it difficult to raise alarm among those who are currently being irresponsible with asbestos during DIY and other construction projects. The consequences are just too far in the future.

But Smith is determined not to give up. He also believes that hardware stores and other places that sell equipment to DIYers should advertise the risks of asbestos with signs, fliers, and other types of warnings. “I wouldn’t know about it unless I had the disease,” he said. “They have signs for everything else, but not this. And this is a killer.”