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Myths and Misconceptions

There are many statements made about asbestos and asbestos exposure that are simply not true.

Asbestos is banned in Australia, so no-one can be exposed anymore.
From 31 December 2003, it is illegal to use, re-use or sell any products containing any form of asbestos in Australia, but asbestos exists still in many forms, and is dangerous if disturbed or deteriorating.

The dangers of asbestos exposure have been exaggerated
The asbestos industry tried to assert that“such anxiety is based on an unjustifiable exaggeration of the health hazards” –this has been proven to be a false claim.

Workers knew the risks and ignored them
Industry, governments and insurance companies knew that asbestos could kill but that information was not shared with workers until much later.

Only those who work with asbestos are in any danger
Asbestos dust and fibres can travel through the air over considerable distances and can be carried on clothing and footwear. During a fire asbestos will go up in the smoke plume and spread over a wide area.

Asbestos should immediately be removed once found
If asbestos already in use as a building material is in good condition, it can be left alone.

It takes prolonged exposure to contract an asbestos related disease
There is no known safe exposure time. A single exposure could result in the development of an asbestos disease.

You are fine if a mask is worn while dealing with asbestos
Full protective clothing should be worn and disposed of safely.Current guidelines can be found on the SA Health website Asbestos Safety

There’s a good kind of asbestos
There is no good asbestos -any type of asbestos can cause disease.

There’s only one kind of asbestos
There are many types of asbestos, primarily blue, white and brown.There’s only one disease associated with asbestos

Asbestos exposure can lead to pleural plaques, asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer.

Mesothelioma is just another name for lung cancer
Mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the pleura around the lungs (or other organs).

Mesothelioma only affects the lungs
It can occur in the peritoneum and, less often, in the pericardium.

Only old people get mesothelioma
There is usually a long lag time between exposure and the onset of symptoms, however many young people are diagnosed after childhood exposure to asbestos.