Residents advised to log details on national asbestos exposure registry

Get registered: Residents who believe they may have come into contact with asbestos should register on a national registry. Photo: SMH
Get registered: Residents who believe they may have come into contact with asbestos should register on a national registry. Photo: SMH

Residents who believe they have come into contact with asbestos should lodge their details on a national registry.

The national asbestos exposure registry was introduced two years ago.

President of the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia, Barry Robson, urged residents who believe they may have come into contact with any asbestos products to register.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has removed the dangerous materials and capped and secured the site. It is believed the dumping occurred in the 1950s.

Mr Robson urged residents to sign up.

"Residents concerned that they may have been exposed to that particular site, or any other site, should go online and register," he said.

"Because of the latency of the disease, it could be 20 years or 60 years down the track, at least there is a record.

"It will give resdients a bit of piece of mind. That record is there if something happens over time."

The peak body president described asbestos as 'an ever-present danger for any community'.

Residents concerned that they may have been exposed to that particular site, or any other site, should go online and register.

Barry Robson

He said any home built pre-1987 would contain a form of asbestos product, and that brings a new set of issues for home renovators.

"The increase in home improvement-type television shows should, in my opinion, also carry warnings about the dangers of asbestos," he added.

Mr Robson was first alerted to the dangers of asbestos in 1966 as a waterfront worker.

"We were unloading asbestos from Canada, South Africa and Western Australia. I was made aware by the union of its dangers and, as a union official, got involved in the movement to ban asbestos in Australia.

"That happened in 2003 and while we also beat Hardys 10 years ago, it doesn't mean the danger (of asbestos) has gone away."

Mr Robson said that, as a child, using asbestos offcuts as chalk to draw out a hop scotch grid or to build chook sheds, garages and garage bases, fences or in a fire on cracker night was common practice.

"Asbestos is a very hard product to get rid of," he said. "But as long as the product is wet it is not as dangerous.However, if dry, the fibres can become airborne. That's when it is at its most dangerous."