'When Aussie parents decide to renovate, they often don't realise the risks.'

As parents, we all want to protect our children from things that can cause harm.

We see it as our role – a primal instinct that stays with us even when our kids are grown, have left home and raising their own families. We protect them from the dangers we know. But what about the dangers we don’t know? How do we protect our kids from dangers that may lie hidden in our homes that can one day could cause life-threatening diseases that are preventable?

Most of us have heard the word, “asbestos”. And while some may think of it as a thing of the past – a horrid scar in Australian history that caused the deaths of the miners who unearthed it, wharfies who loaded it onto ships, factory workers who made household products out of it– today the greatest health threat is to renovators and tradies.


Asbestos is not a thing of the past. It remains among us, and while it may lie hidden in homes in places we least expect, if we’re not careful asbestos can still pose life-threatening risks to renovators and our kids.

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There’s no denying that most Australians have a love affair with renovating. And why wouldn’t we? It’s fun, profitable and an adventure that often Aussie families enjoy doing together. It’s a team effort. Mums and dads do the tool work while the kids play around them, sweeping up the floors and picking up the pieces. It’s a nice way to spend family time but it’s frightening to think that parents could unknowingly be playing a deadly game of “renovation roulette” and putting their lives and the lives of their kids at risk.

There’s nothing more heartbreaking for any parent than to lose a child particularly from a preventable disease.

The tragic story of young Adam Sager who was a toddler when his parents sanded the walls of their family home, not knowing it was asbestos or the health risks, sends a disturbing and vitally important message to every parent.

The son of Julie and Don Sager, Adam was just 24 when he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma caused from inhaling asbestos fibres when he played in the dust from the sanded walls. Six months after he was diagnosed, tragically Adam lost his battle with the disease when he was only 25 years old. Back then, Julie and Don didn’t know the risks of disturbing asbestos. Today we do know and as parents, we owe it to our kids to protect them from something that has the potential to take their lives.

Master renovator Cherie Barber is also an Abestos Awareness Ambassador. Image supplied.

While Aussies have a passion for renovating, most of us don’t know that Australia was among the highest consumers of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in the world. There are literally thousands of asbestos products that lie hidden in one third of Aussie homes including in any brick, weatherboard, fibro, clad home or apartment built or renovated before 1987. If these materials remain sealed, in good condition and are left undisturbed, they’re not considered dangerous. But, when we make changes to properties and disturb these products, we can release microscopic fibres that can be inhaled and lead to life-threatening diseases including malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelioma can take from 20-50 years to develop. There is no cure and the life expectancy after diagnosis is just 10-12 months.


Don’t take risks with asbestos that could be hidden in places you might not expect. Under floor coverings such as carpets, linoleum and vinyl tiles, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, ceilings and ceiling space (insulation), eaves, garages, roofs, around hot water pipes, fences, extensions to homes, garages, outdoor toilets, backyard and farm sheds, chook sheds and even dog kennels.

Prevention is the only cure so make it your business to know what to look for and how to manage asbestos safely by visiting asbestosawareness.com.au. On the website people can watch the video Asbestos in Your Home – The Ultimate Renovators Guide, search the online Asbestos Product Database for various product types and download the Healthy House Checklist – a user-friendly, step-by-step guide to identifying ACMs and their locations.

Play it safe! When it comes to asbestos, Don’t play Renovation Roulette! Don’t cut it! Don’t drill it! Don’t drop it! Don’t sand it! Don’t saw it! Don’t scrape it! Don’t scrub it! Don’t dismantle it! Don’t tip it! Don’t waterblast it! Don’t demolish it! And whatever you do... don’t dump it!

If you are renovating, GO SLOW - Asbestos it’s a NO GO! Visit asbestosawareness.com.au to find out what you need to know because kids need protection too.