ROOKIE do-it-yourself renovators inspired by reality television shows are unknowingly putting themselves at risk of deadly asbestos-related diseases, the nation’s peak asbestos safety authority has warned.
Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency chief executive Peter Tighe said uninformed renovators had emerged as a key concern for the watchdog, thanks in part to the growing popularity of home makeover shows.
And he said the most basic tasks — such as hanging curtains, mounting flat-packs, or pulling up old linoleum — were perhaps the most dangerous.
A new report commissioned by the Federal government agency, obtained exclusively by News Corp, found household renovators were among groups most to blame for illegal dumping of asbestos which it estimates costs about $11.2 million every year to clean up.
The report said around 6,300 tonnes of asbestos-containing materials was illegally dumped in Australia each year, with home renovators, builders and professional asbestos removalists primarily to blame.
It said mass media home renovation programs needed to “reflect a more realistic image” of asbestos-containing products, but conceded “getting traction with program producers and sponsors on this issue might be difficult”.
Mr Tighe said there was “very low levels” of understanding about asbestos, particularly among young people.
“If they get someone to come in and do a proper survey and have it removed then it’s fine, but quite often because of limited budgets there is a lot of do-it-yourself stuff that takes place and that’s encouraged to an extent by some of the programs we have got on TV,” he said.
“One of the things that people don’t know is a lot of those shows have an assessor going through to remove asbestos before anything (else) takes place.”
Mr Tighe said drilling into asbestos was among the most deadly activities, including drilling holes in walls to hang pictures, curtains or mount flat packs.
“(The) first places you look to renovate are the wet areas, the kitchen, the bathroom and possibly the laundry and that’s where you will find quite a bit of asbestos,” he said.
Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia president Barry Robson said reality television shows often did not accurately portray the removal of asbestos.
He said there were around 3000 products used in Australia that continued to contain asbestos and feared young people’s lack of knowledge about these products, coupled with the risk in popularity of renovation shows, risked creating a “fourth wave” of victims.